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06.07.12

First Structures in the Distant Universe

Astronomers have uncovered the patterns of light that appear to be from the first stars and galaxies that formed in the universe, hidden within a strip of sky observed by NASAs Spitzer Space Telescope.

All of the resolved stars and galaxies have been masked out of the image (grey patches), and the remaining background glow has been smoothed and enhanced. This processing reveals a structure too faint to be seen in the original image.

The structure in this image matches just what we would expect for the patterns of clusters for the first galaxies formed in the universe. Even though any particular early galaxy would be too faint to see individually, this technique allows astronomers to better understand what things were like shortly after the Big Bang.