The results obtained indicate that this process ended about 200 million years later than previously believed.
An international team of astronomers managed to accurately determine the end of the reionization epoch of neutral hydrogen gas, commonly known as the ” cosmic dawn”, discovering that this process concluded about 200 million years later than was believed.
According to researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, in Germany, during the first 380,000 years after the Big Bang, the universe was a hot and dense ionized plasma. After this period, its temperature decreased enough for the protons and electrons that filled the cosmos to combine into neutral hydrogen atoms.
Some 100 million years later, with the appearance of the first stars and galaxies, that gas returned to gradually become ionized by ultraviolet radiation from celestial bodies, separating subatomic particles and leaving them as free particles.
For To calculate when this phenomenon occurred, the academics studied the radiation of 67 quasars and analyzed the displacement of the spectral lines caused by the reionization of hydrogen, with which they were able to determine that the ionization of these elements concluded about 1,100 million from years after the Big Bang.
Frederick Davies, co-author of the research, recently published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, noted that “Until a few years ago, the prevailing view was that reionization had been completed nearly 200 million years earlier. We now have the p more convincing proof that the process ended much later, during a cosmic epoch more easily observable by the observation facilities of the current generation”.
Although this temporary correction may seem marginal considering the age of the universe, astronomers point out, a few hundred of millions of years are enough to produce several tens of stellar generations in early cosmic evolution.
“This new data set constitutes a crucial point of reference with the numerical simulations of the first billion years of the Universe will be put to the test for years,” said Davies.
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