A 3-D simulation of the early universe suggests that the first stars left a cosmic signature large enough to be read by radio telescopes.

“It’s a new way to probe the universe when it was very young,” says Zoltan Haiman, a cosmologist at Columbia University, who was not involved in the new work. “We have very few ways to do that.”

The new simulation, described online June 20 in Nature, suggests that a stellar signature exists in the form of fluctuating radio waves, oscillations produced when young stars and nascent galaxies warm and excite surrounding hydrogen gas. The stars and galaxies in the period simulated, when the universe was 180 million years old, are distributed in a distinct, detectable pattern.

NLSI’s astrophysicist Steven Furlanetto, member of the LUNAR team, received the Warner prize at this year’s AAS meeting in Anchorage, Alaska. He said such radio waves could be detected by a proposed project called the Dark Ages Radio Explorer– a lunar satellite that would use the moon as a shield against interference by technologies like television and radio.

In the simulation, the researchers focused on a critical epoch in the early universe, Furlanetto notes. “That’s the first moment in which complexity appears,” he says. “Once those first stars form and you get radiation and nuclear fusion and explosions, it gets very, very complex almost instantaneously.”

Read the full story at ScienceNews.org

You can read more about Steven Furlanetto winning the Warner prize here.

Posted by: Soderman/NLSI Staff
Source: http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/341678/title/Early_stars_created_a_sight_yet_unseen

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