First stars formed even later than previously thought

August 31, 2016, European Space Agency
Artist's impression of a portion in the timeline of the Universe, around the 'epoch of reionisation' – the process that ionised most of the material in the cosmos. The illustration begins from the release of the Cosmic Microwave Background, or CMB (on the left), the most ancient light in the history of the cosmos, dating back to 380 000 years after the Big Bang, and proceeds towards the right, with the formation of the first stars and galaxies in the Universe. Before the release of the CMB, the cosmos consisted of a hot, dense soup of particles. At that time, collisions between electrons and photons – the particles of light – were so frequent that light particles could not travel any significant distance before colliding with electrons. As the cosmos expanded, the Universe grew cooler and more rarefied and, after about 380 000 years, finally became 'transparent'. By then, particle collisions were extremely sporadic and photons could travel freely across the cosmos. The distribution of the CMB on the sky reveals tiny fluctuations that contain a wealth of information about the history, composition and geometry of the Universe. These fluctuations are shown in the vertical strip on the left, which is based on observations of the CMB from ESA's satellite Planck. The release of the CMB happened at the time when electrons and protons joined to form hydrogen atoms. This is the first moment in the history of the cosmos when matter was in an electrically neutral state (represented in yellow). After that, a few hundred million years passed before these atoms could assemble and eventually give rise to the Universe's first generation of stars (left of centre, in the illustration). As these first stars came to life, they filled their surroundings with light, which subsequently split neutral atoms apart, turning them back into their constituent particles: electrons and protons. This process, called cosmic reionisation, is shown at the centre of the illustration. A new analysis of data from Planck's High-Frequency Instrument (HFI) has demonstrated that reionisation started much later than any previous CMB data have suggested, and that it had half-reionised the Universe (right of centre in this illustration) by the time it was about 700 million years old. It did not take long until the end of this process: observations of very distant galaxies hosting supermassive black holes indicate that the Universe had been completely reionised by the time it was about 900 million years old (on the right). The new study based on Planck data locates the formation of the first stars much later than previously thought on the cosmic timeline, suggesting that the first generation of galaxies are well within the observational reach of future astronomical facilities, and possibly even of some current ones. Credit: ESA – C. Carreau

ESA's Planck satellite has revealed that the first stars in the Universe started forming later than previous observations of the Cosmic Microwave Background indicated. This new analysis also shows that these stars were the only sources needed to account for reionising atoms in the cosmos, having completed half of this process when the Universe had reached an age of 700 million years.

With the multitude of and galaxies that populate the present Universe, it's hard to imagine how different our 13.8 billion year cosmos was when it was only a few seconds old. At that early phase, it was a hot, dense primordial soup of particles, mostly electrons, protons, neutrinos, and photons – the particles of light.

In such a dense environment the Universe appeared like an 'opaque' fog, as light particles could not travel any significant distance before colliding with electrons.

As the cosmos expanded, the Universe grew cooler and more rarefied and, after about 380 000 years, finally became 'transparent'. By then, particle collisions were extremely sporadic and photons could travel freely across the cosmos.

Today, telescopes like Planck can observe this fossil light across the entire sky as the Cosmic Microwave Background, or CMB. Its distribution on the sky reveals tiny fluctuations that contain a wealth of information about the history, composition and geometry of the Universe.

The release of the CMB happened at the time when electrons and protons joined to form hydrogen atoms. This is the first moment in the history of the cosmos when matter was in an electrically neutral state.

After that, a few hundred million years passed before these atoms could assemble and eventually give rise to the Universe's first generation of stars.

As these first stars came to life, they filled their surroundings with light, which subsequently split neutral atoms apart, turning them back into their constituent particles: electrons and protons. Scientists refer to this as the 'epoch of reionisation'. It did not take long for most material in the Universe to become completely ionised, and – except in a very few, isolated places – it has been like that ever since.

A summary of the almost 14 billion year history of the Universe, showing in particular the events that contributed to the Cosmic Microwave Background, or CMB. The timeline in the upper part of the illustration shows an artistic view of the evolution of the cosmos on large scales. The processes depicted range from inflation, the brief era of accelerated expansion that the Universe underwent when it was a tiny fraction of a second old, to the release of the CMB, the oldest light in our Universe, imprinted on the sky when the cosmos was just 380 000 years old; and from the 'Dark Ages' to the birth of the first stars and galaxies, which reionised the Universe when it was a few hundred million years old, all the way to the present time. Tiny quantum fluctuations generated during the inflationary epoch are the seeds of future structure: the stars and galaxies of today. After the end of inflation, dark matter particles started to clump around these cosmic seeds, slowly building a cosmic web of structures. Later, after the release of the CMB, normal matter started to fall into these structures, eventually giving rise to stars and galaxies. The inserts below show a zoomed-in view on some of the microscopic processes taking place during cosmic history: from the tiny fluctuations generated during inflation, to the dense soup of light and particles that filled the early Universe; from the last scattering of light off electrons, which gave rise to the CMB and its polarisation, to the reionisation of the Universe, caused by the first stars and galaxies, which induced additional polarisation on the CMB. Credit: ESA

Observations of very distant galaxies hosting supermassive black holes indicate that the Universe had been completely reionised by the time it was about 900 million years old. The starting point of this process, however, is much harder to determine and has been a hotly debated topic in recent years.

"The CMB can tell us when the epoch of reionisation started and, in turn, when the first stars formed in the Universe," explains Jan Tauber, Planck project scientist at ESA.

To make this measurement, scientists exploit the fact that a fraction of the CMB is polarised: part of the light vibrates in a preferred direction. This results from CMB photons bouncing off electrons – something that happened very frequently in the primordial soup, before the CMB was released, and then again later, after reionisation, when light from the first stars brought free electrons back onto the cosmic stage.

"It is in the tiny fluctuations of the CMB polarisation that we can see the influence of the reionisation process and deduce when it began," adds Tauber.

A first estimate of the epoch of reionisation came in 2003 from NASA's Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP), suggesting that this process might have started early in cosmic history, when the Universe was only a couple of hundred million years old. This result was problematic, because there is no evidence that any stars had formed by then, which would mean postulating the existence of other, exotic sources that could have caused the reionisation at that time.

This first estimate was soon to be corrected, as subsequent data from WMAP pushed the starting time to later epochs, indicating that the Universe had not been significantly reionised until at least some 450 million years into its history.

This eased, but did not completely solve the puzzle: although the earliest of the first stars have been observed to be present already when the Universe was 300 to 400 million years old, it remained unclear whether these stars were the main culprits for reionising fully the cosmos or whether additional, more exotic sources must have played a role too.

In 2015, the Planck Collaboration provided new data to tackle the problem, moving the reionisation epoch even later in cosmic history and revealing that this process was about half-way through when the Universe was around 550 million years old. The result was based on Planck's first all-sky maps of the CMB polarisation, obtained with its Low-Frequency Instrument (LFI).

A visualisation of the polarisation of the Cosmic Microwave Background, or CMB, as detected by ESA's Planck satellite over the entire sky. The CMB is a snapshot of the oldest light in our Universe, imprinted on the sky when the Universe was just 380 000 years old. It shows tiny temperature fluctuations that correspond to regions of slightly different densities, representing the seeds of all future structure: the stars and galaxies of today. A small fraction of the CMB is polarised – it vibrates in a preferred direction. This is a result of the last encounter of this light with electrons, just before starting its cosmic journey. For this reason, the polarisation of the CMB retains information about the distribution of matter in the early Universe, and its pattern on the sky follows that of the tiny fluctuations observed in the temperature of the CMB. In this image, the colour scale represents temperature differences in the CMB, while the texture indicates the direction of the polarised light. The patterns seen in the texture are characteristic of 'E-mode' polarisation, which is the dominant type for the CMB. For the sake of illustration, both data sets have been filtered to show mostly the signal detected on scales around 5° on the sky. However, fluctuations in both the CMB temperature and polarisation are present and were observed by Planck on much smaller angular scales, too. Credit: ESA and the Planck Collaboration

Now, a new analysis of data from Planck's other detector, the High-Frequency Instrument (HFI), which is more sensitive to this phenomenon than any other so far, shows that reionisation started even later – much later than any previous data have suggested.

"The highly sensitive measurements from HFI have clearly demonstrated that reionisation was a very quick process, starting fairly late in and having half-reionised the Universe by the time it was about 700 million years old," says Jean-Loup Puget from Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale in Orsay, France, principal investigator of Planck's HFI.

"These results are now helping us to model the beginning of the reionisation phase."

"We have also confirmed that no other agents are needed, besides the first stars, to reionise the Universe," adds Matthieu Tristram, a Planck Collaboration scientist at Laboratoire de l'Accélérateur Linéaire in Orsay, France.

The new study locates the formation of the first stars much later than previously thought on the cosmic timeline, suggesting that the first generation of galaxies are well within the observational reach of future astronomical facilities, and possibly even some current ones.

In fact, it is likely that some of the very first galaxies have already been detected with long exposures, such as the Hubble Ultra Deep Field observed with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, and it will be easier than expected to catch many more with future observatories such as the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope.

'Planck intermediate results. XLVII. Planck constraints on reionization history' and 'Planck intermediate results. XLVI. Reduction of large-scale systematic effects in HFI polarization maps and estimation of the reionization optical depth' by the Planck Collaboration are published in Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Explore further: CR7 is not alone—A team of super bright galaxies in the early universe

More information: Matthieu Tristram. Planck intermediate results. XLVII. Planck constraints on reionization history, Astronomy & Astrophysics (2016). DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/201628897

Planck Collaboration. Planck intermediate results. XLVI. Reduction of large-scale systematic effects in HFI polarization maps and estimation of the reionization optical depth, Astronomy & Astrophysics (2016). DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/201628890

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ursiny33
1.7 / 5 (11) Aug 31, 2016
An electron is not a electrical neutral state , its an unbalanced electrical charge quantum state of matter, proton are the same, unbalanced in their electrical state this matter has a dominant charge by quantum mass and minor charge ,only photons in the light spectrum are balanced charged particles with equal quantum charged states of matter in there construction, so this article is more unicorn stories
RNP
3.5 / 5 (13) Aug 31, 2016
An electron is not a electrical neutral state , its an unbalanced electrical charge quantum state of matter, proton are the same, unbalanced in their electrical state this matter has a dominant charge by quantum mass and minor charge ,only photons in the light spectrum are balanced charged particles with equal quantum charged states of matter in there construction, so this article is more unicorn stories


This is gibberish. Not worthy of further comment.
tinitus
Aug 31, 2016
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
RNP
3.3 / 5 (12) Aug 31, 2016
@tinitus
Well, if the first observed stars turned to be too old, then then the age of Universe and reionization epoch must be shifted, or the Big Bang model couldn't work anymore...


This is simply not true. The big bang theory itself does not predict the timing of the epoch of reionization. This has to be estimated based on much more complex physics (the formation of the first stars, quasars etc).
RNP
2.8 / 5 (13) Aug 31, 2016


@tinitus
Well, if the first observed stars turned to be too old, then then the age of Universe and reionization epoch must be shifted, or the Big Bang model couldn't work anymore...


This is simply not true. The big bang theory itself does not predict the timing of the epoch of reionization. This has to be estimated based on much more complex physics (the formation of the first stars, quasars etc).


Also, the article says that stars formed a little earlier than thought. This does not mean that Universe mist be older.
bschott
2.1 / 5 (14) Aug 31, 2016


This is simply not true. The big bang theory itself does not predict the timing of the epoch of reionization. This has to be estimated based on much more complex physics (the formation of the first stars, quasars etc).


Also, the article says that stars formed a little earlier than thought. This does not mean that Universe mist be older.

Read the title of the article....what are you talking about? Kinda makes you correcting the other posters info. not reliable.
RNP
2.7 / 5 (12) Aug 31, 2016


This is simply not true. The big bang theory itself does not predict the timing of the epoch of reionization. This has to be estimated based on much more complex physics (the formation of the first stars, quasars etc).


Also, the article says that stars formed a little earlier than thought. This does not mean that Universe mist be older.

Read the title of the article....what are you talking about? Kinda makes you correcting the other posters info. not reliable.


It say the first stars formed earlier than thought, NOT the universe. What are YOU talking about?
bschott
2.8 / 5 (9) Aug 31, 2016


This is simply not true. The big bang theory itself does not predict the timing of the epoch of reionization. This has to be estimated based on much more complex physics (the formation of the first stars, quasars etc).


Also, the article says that stars formed a little earlier than thought. This does not mean that Universe mist be older.

Read the title of the article....what are you talking about? Kinda makes you correcting the other posters info. not reliable.


It say the first stars formed earlier than thought, NOT the universe. What are YOU talking about?

Title of the artlcle copied and pasted since you obviously didn't read it:

"First stars formed even later than previously thought"

That's what I'm talking about...so again, what are you talking about?
RNP
2.9 / 5 (9) Aug 31, 2016
@bschott
OK. You are right, I should have should have said later. But my point stands. It does NOT invalidate the big bang theory.
FredJose
2.1 / 5 (14) Aug 31, 2016
ESA's Planck satellite has revealed that the first stars in the Universe started FORMING later than previous observations of the Cosmic Microwave Background indicated.

Fact of the matter is that the big bang theory cannot account for the formation of the first stars out of clouds of gas, all by themselves.
By all known principles of physics, stars should not exist. Period. Yet there they are.
Dark matter and dark energy are currently beyond the grasp of physics and so cannot be applied in any scientific way to account for the creation of stars.
Which of course leaves us with the deep-trodden path - sheer, imaginative speculation. As shown here:
it's hard to imagine how different our 13.8 billion year cosmos was when it was only a few seconds old.


bschott
3.2 / 5 (9) Aug 31, 2016
@bschott
OK. You are right, I should have should have said later. But my point stands. It does NOT invalidate the big bang theory.

Thank you, and agreed...although the whole physics beyond what we observe might end up causing some issues. Opinions and theories on the origins of the universe may one day be able to be proven or invalidated beyond a doubt, We are a few evolutionary leaps in intelligence away from that ability.
wduckss
1.8 / 5 (9) Aug 31, 2016
"After that, a few hundred million years passed before these atoms could assemble and eventually give rise to the Universe's first generation of stars."

If the particles are traveling 270,000 km / sec to the outside, how these gather?

"Why telescopes lie?" http://www.svemir....html#2b
Benni
1 / 5 (8) Aug 31, 2016
@bschott



Benni
1 / 5 (8) Aug 31, 2016

Below I copied directly from the text of GR what Einstein actually wrote about the structure of the Universe. Anybody Comment as you see fit, they are Einstein's words as they appear in General Relativity,

Part III: Considerations on the Universe as a Whole
Albert Einstein 97

If we are to have in the universe an average density of matter which differs from zero, however small may be that difference, then the universe cannot be quasi-Euclidean. On the contrary, the results of calculation indicate that if matter be distributed uniformly, the universe would necessarily be spherical (or elliptical). Since in reality the detailed distribution of matter is not uniform, the real universe will deviate in individual parts from the spherical, i.e. the universe will be quasi-spherical. But it will be necessarily finite. In fact, the theory supplies us with a simple connection 1) between the space-expanse of the universe and the average density of matter in it.
Code_Warrior
1.5 / 5 (4) Aug 31, 2016
An electron is not a electrical neutral state , its an unbalanced electrical charge quantum state of matter, proton are the same, unbalanced in their electrical state this matter has a dominant charge by quantum mass and minor charge ,only photons in the light spectrum are balanced charged particles with equal quantum charged states of matter in there construction, so this article is more unicorn stories

Look at this mess! You've drooled nasty pixels all over the place again! It would be one thing if your drool was somewhat plausible science fiction blockbuster movie lingo drool, I could at least clean that up by going to another web page. No. You just had to go with that really nasty, low budget, straight to VHS tape, science fiction drool! I don't know if these dead pixels will ever come out. My display might be damaged. Thanks a lot.
Azrael
3.8 / 5 (16) Aug 31, 2016
"Why telescopes lie?" http://www.svemir....html#2b


@wduckss

This site you've linked to refers to photons as "a delusion" because they "don't illuminate the space travel through"... Also that "the speed of light doesn't exist because light doesn't exist"...

Are you kidding me?

I also couldn't help but notice the badly edited pictures, the extreme lack of math and cited sources, and your email address featured at the bottom.

Who exactly are you trying to convince with this and more importantly, why?

Are you perhaps linking to a pseudo-science site that you've cobbled together yourself?

Have you perhaps read the rules? Link: https://sciencex....omments/
Phys1
4.2 / 5 (10) Aug 31, 2016

By all known principles of physics, stars should not exist. Period.

Physics says you are wrong:
https://www.youtu...wTwB8jtc
Stevepidge
2 / 5 (8) Aug 31, 2016
Boring extrapolation of what ifs and imagination mixed in with cgi for good effect. 13.8 billion years? Give me a break. We can't even predict the path of a lowly tropical depression for two consecutive hours, let alone the universe before man even existed ( if it did at all ). It's RANK EXTRAPOLATION and should be treated as such.
wduckss
1.9 / 5 (9) Sep 01, 2016
@Azrael

You claim that telescopes lie? What is the object farther speeds are higher at 13 billion ly are (official science) 270,000 km / sec.
You claim that not so?
RNP
3.2 / 5 (9) Sep 01, 2016
@FredJose
By all known principles of physics, stars should not exist. Period. Yet there they are.


This is OBVIOUSLY not true. The basic physics behind star formation is taught in schools.
Phys1
4.6 / 5 (9) Sep 01, 2016
Apparently FredJose is allowed to outright lie by his religion.
Thou shalt not bear false testimony I read somewhere.
RNP
3 / 5 (10) Sep 01, 2016
@wduckss

"Why telescopes lie?" http://www.svemir....html#2b


You only have to read the first paragraph of the nonsense you link above to see that it is littered with fallacies. Obviously, the author knows nothing about the subject.
Phys1
4.4 / 5 (7) Sep 01, 2016
Boring extrapolation of what ifs and imagination mixed in with cgi for good effect. 13.8 billion years? Give me a break.

The age of the universe is certainly not any smaller than that.
wduckss
1 / 5 (5) Sep 01, 2016
@RNP
About these mostly evidence. If you know to the contrary, pretty please evidence.

"By observing the celestial objects the astronomers found out that the red spectral shift increases with the distance, i.e., the object increase the distance from us faster and faster."
True or false?
"..the Speed is also increasing, therefore the most distant objects - more than 13 billion light-years of away - increase their distance by the speed of 270,000 km / sec.,"
True or false?
Your truth is ...?
RNP
2.7 / 5 (7) Sep 01, 2016
@wduckss
...... the object increase the distance from us faster and faster."

and
.....the most distant objects - more than 13 billion light-years of away - increase their distance by the speed of 270,000 km / sec.


Not sure what these sentence mean, but galaxies at larger distances certainly have higher redshifts IF that is what you mean.

However, the article also says:

"...Andromeda, which is relatively close to us, moves 330 km/sec. faster than us, according to the measurements from the end of the last millennium, or 2 000 km/sec., according to the measurements from this millennium. "

SIMPLY NOT TRUE, ANY OF IT.

and

" the universe is, therefore, expanding faster and faster."

AGAIN, NOT TRUE (at least if you mean with time ).
Ultron
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 01, 2016
Interesting article with good summary pictures.
wduckss
1 / 5 (5) Sep 01, 2016
@wduckss
...... the object increase the distance from us faster and faster."

and
.....the most distant objects - more than 13 billion light-years of away - increase their distance by the speed of 270,000 km / sec.


Not sure what these sentence mean, but galaxies at larger distances certainly have higher redshifts IF that is what you mean.

However, the article also says:

"...Andromeda, which is relatively close to us, moves 330 km/sec. faster than us, according to the measurements from the end of the last millennium, or 2 000 km/sec., according to the measurements from this millennium. "
.


It is only a negation, not a confirmation of your claims.
A little wider on (my article): "Where did the blue spectral shift inside the universe come from?" http://www.svemir....html#4b

RNP
3.5 / 5 (8) Sep 01, 2016
@wduckss
It is only a negation, not a confirmation of your claims.
A little wider on (my article): "Where did the blue spectral shift inside the universe come from?"
http://www.svemir....html#4b


The galaxies with blueshift are moving towards us (at least in the sense that the line-of-sight velocity is negative (tangential velocities are unconstrained)). That is obvious. So, there is no need for all the speculation in your article to explain these observations. Again, the problems you find in the scientific consensus arise entirely because you fail to understand it.
wduckss
1 / 5 (3) Sep 02, 2016
@wduckss
It is only a negation, not a confirmation of your claims.
A little wider on (my article): "Where did the blue spectral shift inside the universe come from?"
http://www.svemir....html#4b


The galaxies with blueshift are moving towards us (at least in the sense that the line-of-sight velocity is negative (tangential velocities are unconstrained)). That is obvious. So, there is no need for all the speculation in your article to explain these observations. Again, the problems you find in the scientific consensus arise entirely because you fail to understand it.


I hope that now you understand my first comentar.
If the material travels from center towards the outside of 270,000 km / sec how come to gatherings and the new "Where did the blue spectral shift inside the universe come from?" like and why they are more distant (or older according to your claim) galaxy faster than the closer? Where is here Big Bang?
RNP
3.5 / 5 (8) Sep 02, 2016
@wduckss
No, I am sorry, I still can not make out what you are trying to say. So let me just say that galaxies with blueshift are very close to us (relatively speaking) such that the Hubble velocity at their distance is extremely small and has been overcome by the galaxies' peculiar (random) velocities (e.g. Andromeda and many other galaxies in the Local Group).

The reason that distant galaxies have higher recession velocities it best explained by the "dots on a balloon" analogy (e.g; http://www.hk-phy..._e.html)
wduckss
1 / 5 (6) Sep 02, 2016
@ RNP
Adherents of (fanatical) Big Bang and you claim that you can see past the Universe to close singularities. Correctly?
How do you manage to see a single point of making observations in all directions within a single volume? The theory says that today is the fastest (270,000 km / sec) expansion of the universe, although measurements show that this is happening at 13 or more billion ly (at the beginning of the Big Bang). When you lie, in the first or second case or you are completely miss the point?

"Where is that singularity?" http://www.svemir....html#7b
miss target
RNP
3 / 5 (6) Sep 02, 2016
@wduckss
I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.
Protoplasmix
5 / 5 (3) Sep 06, 2016
Post totals this thread (ratings may change as additional votes occur) ...

ursiny33: posts=1; 1.7 / 5 (11)
RNP: posts=11; 4.2 / 5 (69)
tinitus: posts=1; 2.2 / 5 (10)
bschott: posts=3; 3.7 / 5 (19)
FredJose: posts=1; 2.3 / 5 (12)
wduckss: posts=6; 1.1 / 5 (21)
Benni: posts=2; 1 / 5 (9)
Code_Warrior: posts=1; 1.7 / 5 (3)
Azrael: posts=1; 4.3 / 5 (11)
Phys1: posts=3; 4.2 / 5 (20)
Stevepidge: posts=1; 2.3 / 5 (6)
Ultron: posts=1; 5 / 5 (2)
wduckss
2.3 / 5 (3) Sep 07, 2016
@Protoplasmix pure 5/5(27)

Nikola Tesla had a bad grade and left school ...

In terms of evidence from the most important matter is that, you suit someone. Good quote other people, knowledge (without understanding or with a firm faith in the accuracy) and add some stupid quip is your sense of grading. That you think the head and check the evidence it you did not care.

I give you a pure 5 to make your life find meaning.
Phys1
5 / 5 (3) Sep 07, 2016
@wduckss
You display a corrupted view of evidence.
In life there is evidence and there is politics.
The evidence has to be sound AND you have to serve somebody.
Alas.
You have produced no evidence, so you are not ready to serve anybody.
Protoplasmix
5 / 5 (2) Sep 07, 2016
I give you a pure 5 to make your life find meaning.

wduckss, I understand your point and am much obliged for the feedback. However, you're still free to say something like, "dark matter exists" or "dark matter doesn't exist" and you'll get a point for either statement if "dark matter" is in the article. The ratings from your peers (fellow science enthusiasts) are for you to interpret however you wish. And after getting the science/topic basics done, we have an extremely rich dataset here at phys.org upon which to draw for the purpose of flagging cranks, crackpots, nutjobs, and purveyors of pseudoscience. What do you think of _them_ apples?

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