Research NewsAstronomy

CO in the Early Universe Clouds Cosmologists' Views

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Science  02 Aug 1996:
Vol. 273, Issue 5275, pp. 581
DOI: 10.1126/science.273.5275.581


Two groups of astronomers announced last week that they had detected the glow of a giant cloud of carbon monoxide (CO) in the far reaches of the universe, when it was just a billion years old. These heavy elements are generated only in the nuclear furnaces of stars, which can then explode and spew the material back into space. The detection thus suggests that the formation of galaxies—and the stars they contain—was well under way at that early date. The finding could conflict with the most widely accepted cosmological models, which predict that widespread galaxy formation didn't get under way until much later.