Two More Clues to Origins of Universe: Hot Stars and Cosmic Pasta

The Christian Science Monitor has a particularly readable article today on two recent discoveries by astronomers that promise to provide more bread crumbs on the trail to the origins of the cosmos.

One study describes the discovery of a galaxy named EGSY8p7 (I like that…eggsy-eight sounds close to “exaggerate” — 🙂 ) that contains a large number of unexpectedly hot stars. Prior accepted science would suggest that these stars shouldn’t exist at this distance; the galaxy is located 13.2 billion miles away, the most distant yet identified. Current thinking says that during the period following the Big Bang, there was a time called the “Dark Ages” which lasted about 400 million years. During this time, we have believed that space was filled with a hydrogen fog. Over time, the hydrogen was re-ionized which made it possible for the rest of the cosmic evolution to proceed as we think we understand. This discovery puts that model into some doubt, though it may just need modification rather than a complete re-think.

EGSY8p7

The other study “detected a rotating disk of gas some 400,000 light-years across and some 10 billion miles away taking up cold hydrogen gas via what could be termed a strand of cosmic pasta.” (Don’t you love that analogy? Later in the piece, the reporter, Pete Spotts, uses the analogy of slurping pasta to describe the take-up process. It’s nice to know there’s still some imaginative writing going on in the world of science journalism.) This discovery added credence to the current best thinking about galaxy formation, called the “cold flow model.” This model replaced the long-held belief that galaxies formed within the halos of dark matter. As those halos grew and collapsed, they grew hotter and then cooled to something like 10,000 degrees Celsius, at which point galaxy formation could occur, That model began to fragment in the 1990’s and was replaced by the cold flow model, which attributes formation to the appearance of thin strands of hydrogen until the strands are thinner than the size of the dark matter halo surrounding the galaxies-in-process. Then the strands connect directly to galaxies and protogalaxies and form disks.

So one study causes us to question a long-held thought and the other reinforces a recent modification to a long-held thought. And we move piece by piece, discovery by discovery, slowly to reveal the secrets to how all of This came to be. From the simplest atom, heat and cold, all of the glorious vastness of the Cosmos flows. Buddhist and Hindu cosmologies become ever more credible as sketched models of Creation.

 

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