In the beginning, there was nothing. Well, not nothing. There was a lot of…something. All of the things, in fact, all matter. But in a very, very small space. Well not space. Space and time. Don’t think about it too hard. What’s important to today’s topic is that it all spread out via the Big Bang into what we now call “The Universe.” In the early stages of the universe, the first atoms to form were the most simple oneshydrogen and helium. These atoms would eventually congregate and develop a substantial enough mass to induce nuclear fusion and become the first stars.

In 2015, scientists using a radio telescope in the Australian outback detected a hydrogen cloud from 180 million years after the start of the universe, and considering the universe is almost 14 billion years old, that’s positively young. The reason this hydrogen was detectable was also what made it significant—the radio frequencies emitted from it indicate that the hydrogen was exposed to light. This is the earliest glimpse into the formation of the universe we have had, 9 billion years before our own sun flared to life. If you’re wondering why it took 3 years after the finding to publish the findings, it’s not because the researchers were kept away from the radio telescope by snakes, spiders, and a very persistent Australian scorpion. They essentially spent the last 3 years trying to figure out if there was any other possible explanation for the radio signal the hydrogen cloud was emitting, and found none.

The other significant finding about the early universe matter is that it was much colder than previous models had predicted. If their measurements and calculations are correct, then the explanation for the cooling is something colder was around it, and the only option is dark matter. We have seen gravitational effects from dark matter before, its existence was extrapolated from having no other explanation for where gravitational effects were coming from. But this would be the first time that we have ever detected dark matter interacting with our matter in another way. The authors have emphasized that the results are preliminary, and need to be confirmed by independent research. If it they are, however, this would open many new windows into how we understand visible and dark matter, and their interactions

No word yet on if the dark matter exists in another dimension we can travel to, but oh dear God we can hope.




Popular Science