Open Questions: The Early Universe

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See also: Galaxy formation, structure, and evolution -- Quasars and active galactic nuclei

Close-Up of Galaxies from the Hubble Ultra Deep Field Image

From the HubbleSite Gallery


Introduction

The first stars

The first galaxies

The period of reionization


Recommended references: Web sites

Recommended references: Magazine/journal articles

Recommended references: Books

Introduction



Recommended references: Web sites

Site indexes


Sites with general resources

Ab initio Simulations of the Formation of the First Star in the Universe
The site summarizes summarizes research (published and ongoing) by Greg Bryan, Mike Norman and Tom Abel on the formation and evolution of the very first objects in the universe. Contains visualizations such as dark matter and gas density.
Tom Abel's Home Page
Contains links to assorted material associated with research into the first stars and the early universe.
From Quantum Foam to Galaxies: Formation of the Large-Scale Structure in the Universe
Contains several pages discussing the formation of the earliest galaxies and clusters. Includes computer simulations, visualizations, and some external links. Part of the Center for Cosmological Physics site.
Hubble Ultra Deep Field
News and information about the Hubble UDF project, which has provided an image including objects from the very early universe.
Discovery of the Cosmic Reionization Era
A page with some links and images related to the discovery of the reionization era, provided by George Djorgovski.
LOFAR Home Page
LOFAR is a new, extremely sensitive radio telescope which will be used for studies of the very early universe. It is based on simple antenna technology coupled with a very powerful 27.4 teraflop computer.


Surveys, overviews, tutorials

Astronomers seek to explore the cosmic Dark Ages
October 2009 article about new radio telescopes designed to study the early universe.
Astronomers Compete to Find the Farthest Galaxies
September 2001 article from Space.com. Discusses observational search for the earliest, most distant visible objects in the universe.
Our Tangled Universe: How the First Galaxies Were Born
May 2001 article from Space.com. Discusses how threads and clumps of matter in the early universe helped form the first galaxies.
A First Glimpse of the First Stars
Article for a general audience on the formation and evolution of the first stars, based on the research of Michael Norman, Thomas Abel, and Greg Bryan.
A Non-Technical Introduction to Reionization and Recent Observations
An overview by Rennan Barkana. A more technical paper by the same author: In the Beginning: The First Sources of Light and the Reionization of the Universe.
First Stars
General information about the first stars in the universe, at Solstation.com
First Milky Way Galaxies Discovered
January 2003 paper by Rennan Barkana and Avi Loeb about formation of very early galaxies and dark matter halos around quasars.
The first objects in the universe
Summary of February 2003 article from Physics World, by Rennan Barkana. "Computer simulations and powerful telescopes allow us to probe the first galaxies that formed in the universe and investigate how they transformed neutral intergalactic gas in the early cosmos into the hot, ionized plasma that we know today."
The Cosmic Spectrum and the Color of the Universe
Brief summary of research by Karl Glazebrook and Ivan Baldry which is relevant to details of star formation early in the history of the universe.
Cosmic CAT Scan
August 2005 Scientific American In Focus article about the Chinese Primeval Structure Telescope, a radio telescope designed to gather information on the earliest generation of stars.


Recommended references: Magazine/journal articles

Lighting the universe
Ron Cowen
Science News, July 30, 2011
Rethinking what the first stars were like.
The Dark Ages of the Universe
Abraham Loeb
Scientific American, November 2006
Mature Before Their Time
Ron Cowen
Science Week, March 1, 2003, pp. 139-140
Recent observations suggest that there may have been galaxies having characteristics of "old age" as early as 2 billion years after the big bang. This is quite unexpected, but will be studied intensively during the coming year by the Space Infrared Telescope Facility.
Galaxy Hunters: The Search for Cosmic Dawn
Ron Cowen
National Geographic, February 2003, pp 2-29
During the time from 100 million to 500 million years after the big bang the first stars and galaxies formed. Computer simulations indicate only very roughly how this occurred, and observations are only now becoming possible in order to determine more precisely what transpired during this "dark age" of the universe.
[Additional resources]
Cosmic Dawn
Ron Cowen
Science Week, June 8, 2002, pp. 362-364
Several hundred million years after the big bang, the universe's first stars formed very suddenly. They had from 50 to 300 times the mass of the sun and influenced the birth and evolution of galaxies.
The First Stars in the Universe
Richard B. Larson; Volker Bromm
Scientific American, December 2001, pp. 64-71
The first stars that formed in the early universe -- 100 or 200 million years after the big bang -- were quite unlike typical stars today. Most were at least 100 times as massive as the Sun, and at least a million times as luminous. Their effects on the subsequent evolution of the universe were profound.
All Aglow in the Early Universe
Ron Cowen
Science Daily, May 27, 2000


Recommended references: Books

A. Weiss; T. Abel; V. Hill, eds. -- The First Stars
Springer-Verlag, 2000
This volume is the proceedings of a workshop held in Garching, Germany in 1999. (The text is in English.) Although intended for specialists, most of it is understandable by anyone who has mastered a college astronomy course. The focus of the workshop was on questions about the universe's first stars to form after the big bang -- which were very likely quite different from stars that are currently observable. Such stars were probably quite large (by comparison) and almost totally lacking in metallic elements.

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Copyright © 2002 by Charles Daney, All Rights Reserved