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Q & A: viewing birth of first stars

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Most recent answer: 03/15/2011
Will we be able one day to look so far away in space that we would be looking so far away in time that we would witness the most magnificient grandiose, mind-blowing fireworks of the Universe which is when the very first stars began to shine and illuminate the night sky?
- Anonymous

The answer is yes, but things won't look quite as you might expect. The reason is that the first stars formed very early in the history of the universe. Any light traveling directly to us (and thus capable of being used to image the events) is then severely red-shifted toward lower frequencies by the expansion of the universe.  There's some possible direct visual evidence, described here: Some further evidence about the first generation of stars is already present in the cosmic microwave background. (  More evidence is being sought using a batch of radio-wave detectors currently coming into use.

Mike W.

(published on 03/15/2011)

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