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How the Universe escaped its 'dark ages'

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How the Universe escaped its 'dark ages'

An international team of astronomers have uncovered an important clue about how the Universe emerged from its ‘dark ages' some 13 billion years ago. By looking at nearby galaxies, they can infer what may have happened to the first galaxies of our Universe.

For some time astronomers have known that following the big bang, a dense hydrogen ‘fog' settled over the Universe. During this time, a lot of the light produced by the first stars could only travel short distances before it was absorbed by the fog. They call this period the ‘dark ages' of the Universe, but little is known about what was happening at this time.

"During the dark ages, the hydrogen fog condensed in certain places, which allowed the formation of stars, black holes and the first galaxies," said Swinburne University of Technology astrophysicist Dr Lee Spitler.

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