Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2007 January 2
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Light from the First Stars
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/A. Kashlinsky (GSFC) et al.

Explanation: What were the first stars like? No one is yet sure. Our Sun is not a first-generation star. It is not even second generation. The first stars to appear in the universe likely came and went about 13 billion years ago. However, deep observations by the Spitzer Space Telescope in infrared light have detected a diffuse glow, possibly from first generation stars hundreds of times more massive than our Sun. The above image shows infrared background light with bright patches that might have originated from clusters of these first objects. Gray areas depict places where nearby foreground stars from our Milky Way Galaxy were digitally removed.

Tomorrow's picture: 20 Full Moons

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