Spitzer Looks Right Back to the First Stars

An artist impression of the early Universe. Image credit: NASA/JPL/CaltechAfter the Big Bang there were the first stars. Astronomers think these monsters contained more than 1,000 times the mass of our Sun, and poured out torrents of radiation. They didn’t last long, but they began the cycles of star birth, death, and detonation that helped to create the Universe as we see it today; as well as all the heavier elements.

A first study was done back in 2005 by astronomers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center that turned up infrared light coming from incredibly bright, but incredibly distant objects. Astronomers theorized that these were either the first stars, or extremely heavy black holes blasting out energy.

A second study has refocused the powerful Spitzer Space Telescope at the region. By using a special technique to block out all the bright intervening galaxies and stars, astronomers were able to piece together a view of these distant objects. Although they would have originally been bright in visible light, the expanding Universe has stretched their light out so that it’s now only visible in infrared.