Scientists discover the most distant object ever seen from Earth

How did the first stars form?

At first, the first elements formed quickly after the Big Bang. Just minutes after matter itself was created, the three lightest elements (hydrogen, helium, and lithium) would have come into existence as the density and temperature of the early universe. subatomic particles forced together.

About 20 minutes after the Big Bang, the universe was no longer hot or dense enough to continue forming new elements. The elements that remained were part of an opaque plasma of different particles, which persisted for about 380,000 years ago.

Once the universe cooled to just over 2700⁰C, this plasma condensed to form the first atoms and the universe became transparent. The energy released by this process, known as recombination, can still be detected today as microwave cosmic background radiation.

With the early elements now clouds of gas, different patches of early universe density would have caused them to collapse together under the weight of gravity. Eventually, the heat and pressure would build up so much that nuclear fusion would begin, forming the first stars.

These first stars are the population III stars, which bear their name because they are the third group to be considered by astronomers. Due to the amount of light elements available, these stars may have been up to 1000 times the size of the Sun as they began the process of converting hydrogen and helium into heavier elements.

The amount of fuel available meant that Population III stars were probably some of the brightest stars ever, but they ate quickly from their reserves. Within a few million years, they would have started to burn iron, which releases less energy after the fusion of its atoms than is needed to carry out the reaction.

As a result, stars would have subsequently collapsed into supernovae or to form fuel-starved black holes. It is believed that no population III stars exist today, as the conditions for their formation no longer exist.

However, the light from these distant stars continues to travel. As we look further and further away from Earth, the images we see come from further back in time. Look far enough away and the Population III stars should be visible.

We may have now seen the house of the former.