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Star light. Star bright. First star

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By Roger Snodgrass

Not long after the beginning, as cosmologists currently explain it, some of the first and largest stars the universe has ever known ended their lives in the most powerful thermonuclear explosions in all of nature.

“What we really want to find, is literally the first supernovae,” said Daniel Holz, a cosmologist and member of a team of exploratory researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory who are pursuing “the First Cosmic Explosions.”

There are many reasons to want to find representatives of this first population of stars.

Because they are the first, Holz said, “They are made of just the stuff that came out of the big bang.”

As a link in the narrative of how we ended up being here, he added, “This is the stuff that kicks it off.”

The ancestral stars his group is searching for were hundreds of times bigger and consisted of only primordial matter, hydrogen and helium atoms, according to current simulations of when the universe was only 1 percent of its current age.

That was a few hundred million years after the great expansion, when the universe was an infant.

The laboratory’s project builds on earlier theory and efforts to find indirect evidence that these stars existed and proposes “a method by which direct detection may be possible.”


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