If this evidence is confirmed, humanity could be close to discovering the first stars in the entire Universe.
Population III , the elusive group of stars that formed just after the Big Bang that gave rise to the Universe , could have been found by a group of scientists.
A team of astronomers from the Universities of Tokyo and Notre Dame believe they have found strong evidence of the existence of these stars for the first time in history.
Although humanity is already able to observe millions of stars very far from the Earth’s orbit, those that are part of Population III eluded the observation of astronomers on our planet for a long time. Finally, these clues would give way to the study of the most mysterious celestial bodies that exist in the vast Universe .
The first stars in the cosmos
To date, all the stars we know about belong to one of two groups that scientists have named according to their age. On the one hand, we have Population I , made up of young stars with a large percentage of heavy elements in their composition. In addition, there is Population II with older stars that have fewer heavy elements.
For a long time, Population III was nothing more than a theory or speculation by astronomers since there was never any concrete proof of its existence, due to the expansion of the Universe itself . Although the first stars are believed to have been generated about 100 million years after the Big Bang , their continued growth has left these stars out of the reach of our observing instruments until now.
Ending one of the greatest mysteries of the Universe
According to the study by the group of astronomers , there is a way to identify these distant stars. One theory suggests that these celestial bodies have an almost pristine composition of hydrogen and helium , that is, they are not contaminated with heavy elements because these are part of the supernovae and at the time they formed, there were no supernovae yet since they did not exist. there were stars before them in the Universe .
The authors mention that if traces of a star whose composition is almost pure can be found, it will be shown that this is one of the first to be created. This discovery comes from the spectrographic analysis of the light coming from a Quasar 13.1 billion light years from Earth , placing it only about 700 million years from the beginning of the Universe .
This Quasar is evidence of what scientists consider to be an unstable pair supernova. To explain it in other words, at one point there were two supermassive stars with a mass probably 300 times that of the Sun at this point, they exploded and left only a cloud of gas. The analysis suggests that this cloud has an unusually low proportion of heavy elements, indicating that the stars that exploded would have been part of Population III .
While this discovery is still a long way from leading to direct observation of a Population III star , the study proves that spectrographic analysis is a viable tool for locating these elusive celestial bodies in the cosmos.