Scientists have determined that the earliest stars didn’t turn on until about 180 million years after the big bang, when the universe as we know it exploded into existence.
For decades, teams of scientists have been chasing—in fact, racing—to detect the signatures of these first stars. The new detection, from a project called EDGES, is in the form of a radio signal triggered when light from those stars began interacting with the hydrogen gas that filled primordial empty space.
If the signal stands up to scrutiny, the detection simultaneously opens up a new line of cosmological inquiry and offers a few conundrums to tackle.
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**National Geographic’s space & astronomy expert, Nadia Drake, is available today for interviews out of Washington, D.C.
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