back to article Version 0.1 super-stars built the universe – and they lived all the way over there, boffins point

Astronomers have recorded the brightest galaxy yet seen in the universe. It was formed 800 million years after the Big Bang, and has evidence of an until-now theoretical type of star. The galaxy, dubbed Cosmos Redshift 7 aka CR7, is three times brighter than anything astronomers have seen so far, but the distances involved …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Shhhh...

    don't tell the Creationists. They will think it is the 3rd coming.

    1. HildyJ
      Devil

      Re: Shhhh...

      It's amazing that in 4004 BCE god could have known what astronomers would be looking for in 2015 CE and created the light beams already in transit just to make scientists doubt the bible and go to hell where they can no longer trouble true believers.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        God is bigger than the Bible

        A point apparently missed by small minds at both ends of the spectrum.

        1. Queeg
          Flame

          Re: God is bigger than the Bible

          Still waiting for someone to find the missing first page of the Bible.

          "All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental."

          Religion HA!

          An over-engineered candle for those still afraid of the dark.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: God is bigger than the Bible

            "All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental."

            I think in fact there is independent evidence for the Omrid dynasty which ended with Ahab. They get a bad press in the Bible because they weren't Jahwists.

        2. MrDamage

          Re: God is bigger than the Bible

          How much bigger, and by what standards do we measure the size difference?

          Linguine? Wales? Jubs? Bulgarian Funbags? Enquiring minds need to know.

        3. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: God is bigger than the Bible

          A point apparently missed by small minds at both ends of the spectrum.

          First, demonstrate that God exists. Without that, theology is just mildly entertaining conjecture.

          1. sisk Silver badge

            Re: God is bigger than the Bible

            First, demonstrate that God exists.

            Unnecessary unless He is invoked in a scientific argument, which would be inappropriate. Like morality, the subject of God's existence or lack thereof is a matter for philosophy, not science. The origin of the universe, however, is a matter for science. Even if you believe God created the universe good science still demands looking at exactly how to determine the origins of the universe.

            Basically what I'm saying here is that neither "God did it" or "Prove God exists" are statements of good science. Good science would be more like "God? Meh, who cares."

            1. Deryk Barker

              Re: God is bigger than the Bible

              "Like morality, the subject of God's existence or lack thereof is a matter for philosophy, not science"

              Seriously, you believe that?

              1. sisk Silver badge

                Re: God is bigger than the Bible

                Yes. Science concerns itself with testable facts. God is inherently untestable. Any attempt to prove his existence is pseudoscience at best and there is no way to prove a negative. Therefore God's existence or lack thereof is not a matter for science.

                Think of it this way: Prove scientifically that spitting on someone for having the wrong color of skin is morally wrong. You can't do it, nor can you prove the opposite. That's because morality is not a scientific matter but a philosophical one. It's the same thing with religion.

                If you're a good scientist your belief or lack of belief in God is irrelevant, as a great many religious scientists throughout history have proven. If you're a bad scientist who also happens to be religious....well how did you think we got young Earth creationists with PhDs (yes, there are some out there)?

              2. Fungus Bob Silver badge

                Re: God is bigger than the Bible

                God has always lived beyond the limits of our knowledge. Therefore God cannot be found by science because no matter how far we push back the frontiers of knowledge there will always be something we still don't know.

                This is not a statement professing belief in any particular deity, just pointing out the obvious - that humans have always found God in the Unknown.

                1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                  Re: God is bigger than the Bible

                  "just pointing out the obvious - that humans have always found God in the Unknown."

                  It's called "god of the gaps".

              3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

                Re: God is bigger than the Bible

                "Like morality, the subject of God's existence or lack thereof is a matter for philosophy, not science"

                Seriously, you believe that?

                Go on, explain how scientific epistemology applies to supernatural hypotheses.

                Here's a hint to get you started: It doesn't. By definition. That's what "supernatural" means. There are phenomena that obey a set of what we hope are objective, consistent principles; those are the natural phenomena, and they submit to testing protocols that are designed to eliminate subjective bias. We call the set of such protocols "science".

                There also may or may not be other phenomena which don't obey those principles. It's impossible, by definition, to prove or disprove the existence of such phenomena.

                We can collect and analyze evidence for and against1 specific claimed descriptions of such phenomena; and we can induce from that the probability of specific forms of such phenomena. So a scientific Bayesian reasoner can say, the evidence so far indicates the probability of these various claimed forms of supernatural phenomena is low. But that's as close as science gets to the question.

                And some claims of supernatural phenomena are so rarified that even those claiming them don't believe there should be any discernible direct evidence. The demiurge posited by the Deists, for example, is a "watchmaker god" that created the universe but does not intercede after creation. That is a supernatural thesis that is always and irretrievably beyond the reach of science, because it is a priori orthogonal to any possible empirical test or formal model of the consistency of reality.

                (This is basic epistemology. What do they teach kids in school these days?)

                1Thus far, pretty much solidly against.

        4. Bob Wheeler
          Happy

          Re: God is bigger than the Bible

          In fact, no gods anywhere play chess. They prefer simple, vicious games, where you Do

          Not Achieve Transcendence but Go Straight to Oblivion; a key to the understanding of

          all religion is that a god's idea of amusement is Snakes and Ladders with greased rungs.

          -- (Terry Pratchett, Wyrd Sisters)

  2. sisk Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    "Hey guys....is it just me...or does that look like a glass blower from a marble factory?"

    Black helicopter because it's as close as I can get to a MiB icon.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    We don't know who built the universe, but we do know that systemd is now capable of launching it.

    1. Sealand
      Coat

      For a minute there, you had me pondering the size of the launch pad ...

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. PK

      Surely you just need tar -xf /dev/null ?

      1. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge
        Coat

        There's not enough carbon in the universe for it to be a tarball.....

        Mines the ones with a pocket universe.

    4. sisk Silver badge
      Coat

      but we do know that systemd is now capable of launching it

      Ah, systemd. That explains why the karma subsystem doesn't seem to be working right.

  4. FozzyBear Silver badge

    This is why i love science

    It's not what you know that exicting it's the new discoveries that challenge it.

    1. dan1980

      Re: This is why i love science

      It might be an inaccurate reading of the article or an even more inaccurate understanding of the science but I don't understand where the 'challenge' is - at least in the sense of this discovery being something that challenges what people know.

      As I understand it, these stars pretty much had to exist at some point as the heavier elements we see around us every day are the product of fusion inside stars, but the big bang generated elements only as heavy as Beryllium. Thus, the earliest stars could only have been composed of these lighter elements as there simply wasn't anything else there to use.

      I took this discovery as a confirmation of a widely held and accepted prediction which, if false, would cause people to go back to the drawing board to figure out how heavier elements were first generated. (And indeed re-think the big bang.)

      To me, then, the really pleasing thing is how several (already multinational) teams of scientists working around the globe have coordinated themselves towards this goal. I find this all the more impressive and affirming because the observation was not some great leap but a confirmation of something already long assumed (again, unless I am mistaken).

      Thousands of hours of observation and coordination and patience and diligence applied to making sure that we what we think we know is actually the truth.

      1. Hero Protagonist

        Re: This is why i love science

        The "challenging" aspect was the unexpected brightness of the galaxy. Further investigation led them to the realization that it was full of Population III stars

        1. Wzrd1

          Re: This is why i love science

          Annoyingly, without citation.

          Might as well call me god.

          I can also provide zero citations and hence , am your Lord God.

          Under those conditions, I'd be an atheist.

      2. Anonymous Blowhard
        Thumb Up

        Re: This is why i love science

        This just shows that we need experimentalists to keep the theorists honest.

        The main problem is that experiments cost money, and the cutting edge of physics is getting beyond the budget of individual nations; fortunately the science community is able to work on a worldwide basis to make these discoveries possible.

        Thumbs up to them!

  5. Youngone Silver badge

    Question

    If there are any Star Boffins reading El Reg, can they answer this:

    Does this mean that there was a generation of stars with only hydrogen that fused into helium, went nova and spread that around?

    This new helium went into making new stars which fused hydrogen into helium, and helium into Lithium, then they went bang, ekcetera...

    So there may be even older shorter lived stars yet to be discovered?

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Question

      What would be the fuel for it if not hydrogen? Things don't normally get more basic than that, as far as I know. I would have thought that if there's something earlier, there would have been a Population IV predicted or theorized.... which as far as web-searching.. none have been..... yet.

      1. dan1980

        Re: Question

        "I would have thought that if there's something earlier, there would have been a Population IV predicted or theorized."

        Give there was a natural first star type, it is confusing to me that the order is not the other way around - with these stars being 'Population I' and our current generation being 'Population II' and 'III'. I mean, if our star is a 'Population I' star, what are the next generation?

        1. PassiveSmoking

          Re: Question

          According to Wikipedia the population numbering is a result in which the various populations were discovered or hypothesised. Our sun and local stars were known about first so they're population 1. Metal poor stars were discovered later so they're population 2. The discovery of population 2 stars led people to theorise about stars with no metal at all and those were dubbed population 3.

          1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

            Re: Question

            It would have been less confusing for us non-boffins if the star populations were numbered in order of creation, rather than discovery, but that would have meant knowing from the start how many populations there were to discover.

    2. Simon Blakely

      Re: Question

      When elements coalesced from the Big Bang, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Bang_nucleosynthesis) the elements formed were Hydrogen (and isotopes), Helium (and isotopes), some Lithium-7 and some Beryllium-7. Not all these isotopes were stable, and so decayed back to Helium or Lithium.

      So Population-III stars are most probably the earliest possible.

    3. Chairo

      Re: Question

      Does this mean that there was a generation of stars with only hydrogen that fused into helium, went nova and spread that around?

      This new helium went into making new stars which fused hydrogen into helium, and helium into Lithium, then they went bang, ekcetera...

      Well, I am no star boffin, but as an interested amateur, I'll try to answer your question. If there is a real star boffin reading this, please feel free to correct me.

      As far as I understand all elements up to iron are fused inside stars in a more or less consecutive sequence.

      The density and pressure inside of a star is so high, that elements normally couldn't exist. The electrons would be pushed away and the neutrons fuse together. This fusion, however creates energy, which causes s outward pressure. In a star, the inward pressure by gravity and the outward pressure by fusion energy is in a balance. Not all elements fuse under the same conditions, First helium is created by the fusion of Hydrogen atoms, if enough hydrodgen is used up, the pressure in the core goes up until the helium ignites and so on. This process only happens in the star's core and the elements bred there mostly stay there. Until all fuel is used up, that is. What then happens depends mostly on the star's mass. Generally the star is blown apart spectacularly with some of it's core left over as a white dwarf, a neutron star or a stellar black hole.

      The gas blown away is still mostly hydrogen, but it is polluted with the elements that were bred in the star's core. It can clump together again to form new stars, planets, whatever.

      So we are made of star ash. Literally.

      1. VulcanV5
        Happy

        Re: Question

        Luvvly post. One of these days I'm going to get around to understanding what that baby-in-a-bubble was all about at the end of "2001: A Space Odyssey" but in the meantime find it immensely reassuring, somehow, that we are stardust, we are golden, children of the universe with a right to be here. Just a shame our species' innate spirituality (whose origin is a mystery) is still being fucked over by the aberration of 'religion.'

        1. dan1980

          Re: Question

          Reassuring?

          How so?

          Personally, I find it reassuring to know that I am part of the current configuration of an on-going process that has so far taken 14bn years but that I am utterly and completely unnecessary for it to continue. And continue it will - without me - and be none the worse for my absence.

          Nihilistic? I prefer to think of it as stoic.

    4. cray74

      Re: Question

      This new helium went into making new stars which fused hydrogen into helium, and helium into Lithium, then they went bang, ekcetera...

      Actually, big stars only use a little bit of their hydrogen fuel because they can only use the hydrogen in their core. Unlike red dwarf stars - which don't supernova - bigger stars don't have convection occurring in their "mantles" that might bring fresh hydrogen to the core.

      So bigger stars do produce helium in their core and distribute it when they supernova, and that makes the next generation of stars richer in heavier elements, but they still have a lot of left over hydrogen by the time they blow up. They redistribute a lot more hydrogen than heavy elements. As a result, the next generation of stars starts off burning hydrogen, too.

      In fact, all stars start off as hydrogen burners. They have to exhaust the hydrogen in the core before they move on to more difficult fuels like helium.

  6. Mark 110

    Question

    Where did the stuff that went bang to form the Population III stars come from? What was it made of?

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Question

      What was the stuff that went bang made of?

      BIG!

    2. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Question

      Big Bang Nucleosynthesis theorises that hydrogen, helium, some deuterium, less helium 3, and a relatively tiny amount of lithium formed immediately after the big bang itself, along with unstable isotopes tritium and beryllium that decayed to more stable variants of helium and lithium.

      As hydrogen and helium already present form the Population III stars, there's no need for Population IV stars to create them via fusion.

      1. BenR
        Boffin

        Re: Question

        Good luck creating protium with nuclear fusion!

        1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

          Re: Question

          Fair point, my last sentence perhaps wasn't worded as clearly as it should have been.

          Obviously you can't create hydrogen-1 via nuclear fusion. I should have said there would be no Population IV stars because the necessary elements for Population III already existed immediately after the big bang. Thus no need to synthesise hydrogen, or fuse hydrogen into helium.

          1. fendjinn

            Re: Question

            Yep, which is why Population III stars are only composed of the original big-bang synthesised elements.

            Although in fact protium IS formed by fusion in the pp 1 branch of the proton-proton chain reaction (which goes He-3 + He-3 --> He-4 + 2 (H-1) + energy). But I get what the respondent is saying.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Question

      "Where did the stuff that went bang to form the Population III stars come from? What was it made of?"

      We can't answer the "where did it come from", but as for what it was made of, there are plenty of popular accounts of what happened just after the inflationary period and the Big Bang. Idiot level summary radiation -> quark/gluon plasma -> first hadrons separate -> protons -> pop III stars.

  7. Nathan 13

    Surely we are nearly

    at Level 2.

  8. The last doughnut

    Nice article but a bit annoyed they've used an artists impression as an image without saying it is such.

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