Friday, November 11, 2011

Remnants of The Big Bang discovered in gas clouds

Two pristine gas clouds have been discovered which were created during the first minutes after The Big Bang. That is what chemical analysis of their contents reveals. The composition of the clouds matches theoretical predictions about the first moments after The Big Bang, further reinforcing the theory about the creation of the universe, which has already been investigated and tested rigorously.

Scientists of the University of California, responsible for the findings, have shown that these two newly discovered gas clouds are made up of elements no heavier than hydrogen, which indicates that they were formed early on in the history of our universe. That is because in the very beginning, hydrogen-based clouds are  suspected to have formed the basis of the creation of heavier elements by nuclear fusion, which is called nucleosynthesis. This lead to the formation of a heavier form of hydrogen, called deuterium, and other light elements, such as helium and lithium.

Hydrogen is the lightest element in our periodic table. It consists of one proton and neutron in its core, and just a single electron. By combining two hydrogen cores, helium is created, which consists of two protons and two neutrons in the atom core. Though, helium is also found with two protons and one neutron. There are many elements that different isotypes, but often only one of them is predominantly found in nature, because other forms are unstable.

It is the first time that gas clouds, of which there are many in our universe, are found to be pristine and matching the data that was predicted from theoretical models. The scientists think these clouds may have fuelled stars that use hydrogen as an energy source to create heavy elements, such as metals. Because it takes time to form metals out of hydrogen fuel, the 'metallicity' of the stars says something about their age.

The discovery is an important step in discerning the full timeline of our universe. While we do have copious theoretical models, physical proof is needed to tie the history of the universe together. The two gas clouds, likely formed during the first moments of our universe, significantly contribute to our understanding of the universe's origin.

No comments:

Post a Comment