Astronomers have discovered and confirmed what would be the faintest and ancient universe galaxy ever. The discovery could explain how the cosmic dark period came to an end.
An international team of researchers using the WM Keck Observatory on the summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii unearthed the galaxy which is almost 13 billion years ago. The observatory is composed of two telescope observatory with 10 m (33 ft) primary mirrors situated at a height of 4145 meters. It is among the largest telescopes in use.
The discovery marks the first steps towards unraveling the biggest riddles of science- how a period is known as “cosmic dark ages” ended.
The Dark age in Cosmology refers to a time when the temperatures of celestial background radiation cooled from 4000K to 60K.
The background temperatures were between 373K and 273K making it possible for water to remain in a liquid state.
The era between 7 million years and 10 to 17 million posts the Big Bang is important because it is speculated that primitive life appeared during this phase.
Post the Big Bang, the universe cooled and spread. The protons captured electrons and became hydrogen atoms. It made the Cosmos opaque to radiation leading to the era of the extraterrestrial dark.
Some 113 billion years ago a process called outer space reionization happened.
Astronomers have been unable to determine if there were enough stars to ionize all the intergalactic hydrogen and create the universe as we see it now, or it was caused by other sources like gaseous matter falling into gigantic black holes. However, the most plausible reason is stars within faint galaxies.
The faint galaxies could be seen only by employing gravitational lensing magnification. Gravitational lensing was first predicted by Einstein when light traveling along the curvature of space and time, it is bent slightly when it passes close to a massive object. It is one of the tricks used by scientists to magnify distant objects for astronomy.