Special Reviews

The Dark Age of the Universe

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Science  20 Jun 2003:
Vol. 300, Issue 5627, pp. 1904-1909
DOI: 10.1126/science.1085325

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The Dark Age is the period between the time when the cosmic microwave background was emitted and the time when the evolution of structure in the universe led to the gravitational collapse of objects, in which the first stars were formed. The period of reionization started with the ionizing light from the first stars, and it ended when all the atoms in the intergalactic medium had been reionized. The most distant sources of light known at present are galaxies and quasars at redshift z ≅ 6, and their spectra indicate that the end of reionization was occurring just at that time. The Cold Dark Matter theory for structure formation predicts that the first sources formed much earlier.

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