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Oldest Oxygen in the Universe Discovered, Astronomers Say

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By    |   Wednesday, 16 May 2018 05:17 PM

Astronomers have discovered what they believe is the oldest oxygen in the universe in a galaxy 13 billion light-years from Earth.

The findings, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, suggest the oldest stars “turned on” 250 years after the Big Bang.

"It is not surprising that stars began to form at about that time, but what is surprising is that we found most of the stars in this galaxy were born so early," said University College of London astrophysicist and study contributor Richard Ellis, the Orlando Sentinel reported. "Most models suggest star formation begins gradually, not in such a single burst of activity."

Although the galaxy referred to as MACS1149-JD1 was discovered six years ago, astronomers didn’t realize how old it was until now. To do so required a team using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA telescope) located in Chile.

Astonomers measured the wavelength of the oxygen spectrum, which is stretched as the universe expands, to determine the length of time the oxygen has been there, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

“I think this paper is very important,” Aparna Venkatesan, professor in physics and astronomy at the University of San Francisco, told Gizmodo.

She added that too much shouldn’t be read into the study, however. 

“I think the one thing that’s a little uncertain is the star formation history,” she told Gizmodo. She said the researchers’ conclusions are but one interpretation of the data.

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Astronomers have discovered what they believe is the oldest oxygen in the universe in a galaxy 13 billion light-years from Earth.
oldest, oxygen, universe, discovered
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2018-17-16
Wednesday, 16 May 2018 05:17 PM
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