Stars Cleared ‘Fog’ From Early Universe
October 13, 2011 by UPI - United Press International, Inc.
ANN ARBOR, Mich., Oct. 12 (UPI) — Space between galaxies in the early universe was filled with an opaque fog that may have been cleared away by radiation from massive stars, U.S astronomers say.
Astronomers generally have believed early star-forming galaxies could have provided enough of the right kind of high-energy radiation to evaporate the dense hydrogen fog in interstellar regions — but have not been able to discover how that radiation could escape a galaxy.
University of Michigan astronomers say they’ve discovered a dwarf galaxy near our own Milky Way undergoing a burst of intense star formation that’s generating massive amounts of ultraviolet radiation.
In these so-called starburst galaxies a “super wind” of radiation from massive stars forming within the galaxy can tunnel through the gas contained in the galaxy, escaping to contribute to clearing the interstellar “fog” between galaxies, researchers said.
While rare today, scientists believe starburst galaxies were very common in the early universe, and the discovery offers clues to how the earliest galaxies affected the universe around them.