Hubble Reaches Back 13 Billion Years to Reveal Universe 2.0 - Did Dark Matter Destroy the Original?
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January 06, 2010

Hubble Reaches Back 13 Billion Years to Reveal Universe 2.0 - Did Dark Matter Destroy the Original?

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No galaxies have been seen before at such early epochs as that seen in this deepest image of the universe ever taken in near-infrared light by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. The faintest and reddest objects (left inset) in the image are galaxies that correspond to "look-back times" of approximately 12.9 billion years to 13.1 billion years ago. 

A longstanding enigma is that it still appears that these early galaxies did not emit enough radiation to "reionise" the early Universe by stripping electrons from the neutral hydrogen that cooled after the Big Bang. This "reionisation" event occurred between about 400 million and 900 million years after the Big Bang, but astronomers still don't know which light sources caused it to happen. These newly discovered galaxies date from this important epoch in the evolution of the Universe.
It took about the first billion years to completely ionize the Universe; before that, the Universe was opaque to light, with neutral atoms acting like dust. As the Universe reionizes, it becomes easier to see the light from whatever objects are behind it. The youngest object ever discovered in the universe, Gamma Ray Burst GRB 090423, born when the Universe was under 0.7 billion years old. This thing is so far away that no visible light actually got out; we can only see the X-rays from it

These early Hubble galaxies are much smaller than the Milky Way and other spiral galaxies and have populations of stars that are intrinsically very blue. This may indicate the galaxies are so primordial that they are deficient in heavier elements, and as a result, are quite free of the dust that reddens light through scattering. 

Ross McLure of the Institute for Astronomy at Edinburgh University and his team detected 29 galaxy candidates, of which twelve lie beyond redshift 6.3 and four lie beyond redshift 7 (where the redshifts correspond to 890 million years and 780 million years after the Big Bang respectively). He notes that "the unique infrared sensitivity of Wide Field Camera 3 means that these are the best images yet for providing detailed information about the first galaxies as they formed in the early Universe".

"These galaxies could have roots stretching into an earlier population of stars. There must be a substantial component of galaxies beyond Hubble's detection limit," according to James Dunlop of the University of Edinburgh. 
 
"These ancient galaxies are only one twentieth of the Milky Way's diameter," reports HUDF09 team member Pascal Oesch of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. "Yet they must be the seeds from which the great galaxies of today were formed," adds HUDF09 team member Marcella Carollo of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.

"The masses are just 1 percent of those of the Milky Way. To our surprise, the results show that these galaxies at 700 million years after the Big Bang must have started forming stars hundreds of millions of years earlier, pushing back the time of the earliest star formation in the Universe," explains team member Ivo Labbe of the Carnegie Institute of Washington, 

"This is about as far as we can go to do detailed science with the new HUDF09 image. It shows just how much the James Webb Space Telescope is needed to unearth the secrets of the first galaxies," says Illingworth. 

The challenge is that spectroscopy is needed to provide definitive redshift values, but the objects are too faint for spectroscopic observations (until JWST is launched), and the redshifts have to be inferred from the apparent colours of the galaxies.

Perhaps the density of very faint galaxies below the current detection limit is so high that there may be enough of them to support reionisation. Or there was an earlier wave of galaxy formation that decayed and then was "rebooted" by a second wave of galaxy formation. Or, possibly the early galaxies were extraordinarily efficient at reionising the Universe.

Due to these uncertainties it is not clear which type of object or evolutionary process did the "heavy lifting" by ionising the young Universe. The calculations are inconclusive, and so galaxies may do more than currently expected, or astronomers may need to invoke other phenomena such as mini-quasars (active supermassive black holes in the cores of galaxies) — current estimates suggest that quasars are even less likely than galaxies to be the cause of reionisation. This is an enigma that still challenges astronomers and the very best telescopes.

"We know the gas between galaxies in the Universe was ionised early in history, but the total light from these new galaxies may not be sufficient to achieve this." said Andrew Bunker of the University of Oxford, a researcher on one of the European teams.

Did dark matter destroy this early universe?  You might be looking around at the way things "exist" and thinking "No", but we're talking about ancient history.  Three hundred million years after the start of the universe, things had finally cooled down enough to form hydrogen atoms out of all the protons and electrons that were zipping around - only to have them all ripped up again around the one billion year mark.  Why?

Most believe that the first quasars, active galaxies whose central black holes are the cosmic-ray equivalent of a firehose, provided the breakup energy, but some Fermilab scientists have another idea.  Dan Hooper and Alexander Belikov posit that invisible, self-destructing dark matter may have blown up every atom in the universe.  At least it's plausible in that if we wanted to ionize an entire universe, we'd want something that sounded that awesome.

Dark matter is a candidate for providing ionizing radiation because, if it exists at all, it's its own antiparticle: if two dark matter particles hit each other they can blow up.  Insane as it sounds, the theory predicts that despite making up most of everything the particles themselves are so tiny, and so terribly fussy about colliding, that they can form huge structures without destroying themselves.  Positron emissions which may be an indication of exactly this kind of self-destruction have been observed by the European PAMELA satellite currently orbiting the Earth.

As theories go, this one is more awesome than accepted.  The quasar hypothesis has wide support, and crediting something we've never even seen with reshaping the universe may be going a little far.  Then again, that's what modern cosmology is doing with dark matter anyway, so maybe this idea will fit right in. With the launch of the James Webb Space Observatory, perhaps we'll find out for certain.

Posted by Casey Kazan with Luke McKinney 

Source material provided by ESA/Hubble Information Center.

Image Credit: Credit: NASA, ESA, G. Illingworth (UCO/Lick Observatory and University of California, Santa Cruz), and the HUDF09 Team

Comments

Dark matter is just an insane thing to ponder... I love thinking about stuff like this.

Dark matter is just an insane thing to ponder... I love thinking about stuff like this.

Ok this is most likely my ignorance speaking so someone point out the obvious for me....but if the hypothesis of the big bang is that everything started from a single point, and that nothing moves faster than the speed of light...how do we find ourselves 13 billion light years away from this and still able to see it? We would have needed to move 13 billion times the speed of light from that central point for the photons to be just now catching up with us.

I hate the assumption that the big bang is 100%, their are many other very credible theories out there, to me, that make alot more sense. I dont beleive everything in this enormous universe, coming from a single point, the size of an atomic nucleus. Were making things to complicated. How do we know that the entire visible universe that we see isnt, part of another much much larger, existence, having nothing to do with what we see, or the so called big bang. Its like saying the world is flat, and god made it that way, based on what we saw from the shore. We have no idea yet, no idea.

rocpmd, i agree with your idea 100%.We haven't even begun to scratch the surface of whats really out there and how it works.
It must have been a enormous single point.

Casey Kazan and McKinney's report is very intriguing indeed about the early universe within first billion years. Because of the faint intensity of early radiation, spectroscopic studies appear difficult. May i suggest that the earliest Gamma ray burst GRB....
may be examined in detail to determine the speed of electromagnetic radiations.My suspicion is that the velocity of light was higher in the early universe. If it comes our so, its variable values for the so-called constants, including the relative strengths of the four component force/fields. The latter have arisen in a sequential manner, as per the logic of evolution.We may well need revision of the Laws of Physics we consider holy at the moment. It will also help solve the mystery of dark matter and its dominance over the visible matter. After all at the time of creation of the universe, a primordial matter existed which latter got converted to the two forms. That is the real mystery to solve in order to understand the prevalent mysteries about the universe. Comments are most welcome on such contemplations, as it may be wrong to bias ourselves with current Physics if we have to solve the mysteries that are proving enigmatic to us currently!

why does reionization lead to less opaqueness - photons should traverse easier with less ionization

From above..."Ok this is most likely my ignorance speaking so someone point out the obvious for me....but if the hypothesis of the big bang is that everything started from a single point, and that nothing moves faster than the speed of light...how do we find ourselves 13 billion light years away from this and still able to see it? We would have needed to move 13 billion times the speed of light from that central point for the photons to be just now catching up with us."

I was going to say the exact same thing...I don't really understand either...I must lay my faith in the modern day version of the priests and religious elites of centuries ago....most people back then couldn't read, today most people don't understand advanced science - they just trust what they are told.

Nothing can move fater than the speed of light. However, space itself can expand at speeds faster than the speed of light. So nothing can travel thru space itself faster than the speed of light but space itself seems to have no speed limit.

We would have needed to move 13 billion times the speed of light from that central point for the photons to be just now catching up with us.

Speed travels at the sound of light.

I hear that Hubble is reaching its end and will be replaced soon on the orbit. This has to be man's best friend until now. Hi, Hubble

That is the real mystery to solve in order to understand the prevalent mysteries about the universe.

wow!!!!!this is truly amazing,how do we find ourselves 13 billion light years away from this and still able to see it

this information is very useful for the science people and can help them a lot.

this gives a bright information for the viewers about the science. it makes sense and it is very knowledgeable.

the children can really be befitted after viewing this information.

the Hubble deep field was great to watch. amazing post. thanks for sharing. very useful information.

HATS OFF to this post....
It is indeed very knowledgeable and informative........
Isn't that amazing to know that we are 13 billion light years away from it but we are still able to view it...
Really a mind boggling stuff!!!!!!

what an article. this is what you call superb one. thanks for sharing. wow, i loved it.

This is truly magnificent!!This stuff can prove very conducive for those who have a real interest in SCIENCE!!!!!

"Yet they must be the seeds from which the new and great galaxies of today were formed," adds HUDF09 team member Marcella Carollo of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology with NASA.

Were making things to complicated. How do we know that the entire visible universe that we see isnt, part of another much much larger, existence, having nothing to do with what we see, or the so called big bang. Its like saying the world is flat, and god made it that way, based on what we saw from the shore. We have no idea yet, no idea.

This is a very confusing and complicating subject. Thanks for making things a little clearer.

I think subject is mind boggling. I personally dont care what happens 13 billion miles away.


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