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iSGTW Image of the Week - The First Sources of Light

Image of the Week: The First Sources of Light


Courtesy of Texas Advanced Computing Center.

Understanding the nature of the first stars and galaxies, which formed a few hundred million years after the Big Bang, is at the frontier of modern cosmology. They lie just above the horizon of what is currently observable. NASA is preparing to launch the James Webb Space Telescope to replace the Hubble. This new telescope will be able to observe these early stars and galaxies. In preparing for this key upcoming mission it is important to predict the properties of the first sources of light.

Volker Bromm’s astronomy research group at The University of Texas at Austin simulates these first stars using TeraGrid computers at the Texas Advanced Computing Center. This picture, produced by Paul Navratil of the Visualization and Data Analysis group at TACC using additional TeraGrid resources, shows how one of the first stars creates a bubble of high-energy, ionizing photons, thereby beginning the process of transforming the primordial universe into a state of ever increasing complexity.

- Faith Singer-Villalobos, Texas Advanced Computing Center and TeraGrid
iSGTW Contributing Editor

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