Japan:Clue to life’s origin detected in early universe
Laaska News Oct. 6,2011
A Japanese research team of astronomers has successfully detected a carbon emission line in the most distant radio galaxy, which is 12.5 billion light years away.
The astronomers, mainly from Ehime University and Kyoto University, observed a specific radio galaxy and was able to measure its chemical composition for the first time by using Japan’s Subaru Telescope in Hawaii.
The universe began with the Big Bang about 13.7 billion years ago, with hydrogen and helium being the only elements at its early stage.
The question has remained as to when and how heavier elements, including carbon, calcium and iron, originated afterward.
The latest finding shows that carbon existed in a galaxy 1.2 billion years after the Big Bang.
The chief of Ehime University’s Research Center for Space and Cosmic Evolution, Yoshiaki Taniguchi, leads the research.
He said the team has, for the first time in the world, proven the existence of carbon in that era, which had been only theorized. He added that the finding may provide clues about the chemical nature of humans.
Associate professor Hidehiko Agata at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan hailed the finding as significant, and said it confirmed that an abundance of metals was already present in the ancient universe as far back as 12.5 billion years ago. He said he hopes the research on chemical evolution will advance further.