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Early Universe ‘Heated Up’ Later Than Previously Believed, New Study Finds

Update Date: Feb 06, 2014 10:17 AM EST

Black holes, which are formed from the first stars in our universe, used to heat the gas throughout the space later than earlier belief, according to a new study.  

Researchers imprinted a clear signature in radio waves that astronomers can search for. Experts believe, the findings of the study are a breakthrough in knowing more about the universe. 

"One of the exciting frontiers in astronomy is the era of the formation of the first stars," explained Prof. Rennan Barkana of TAU's School of Physics and Astronomy, an author of the study, in the press release. "Since the universe was filled with hydrogen atoms at that time, the most promising method for observing the epoch of the first stars is by measuring the emission of hydrogen using radio waves."

The new findings suggested that cosmic heating occurred later than thought signaling observers that there was no need to search as far and further making it easier to see the cosmic milestone. 

Cosmic heating might even offer a new prospective to investigate the earliest back holes as it is expectedly driven by star systems called "black-hole binaries." 

"It was previously believed that the heating occurred very early," added Prof. Barkana in the press release, "but we discovered that this standard picture delicately depends on the precise energy with which the X-rays come out. Taking into account up-to-date observations of nearby black-hole binaries changes the expectations for the history of cosmic heating. It results in a new prediction of an early time (when the universe was only 400 million years old) at which the sky was uniformly filled with radio waves emitted by the hydrogen gas."

The study is published in the journal Nature

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