1st maps of massive, translucent gas clouds reveal clues about the early universe

For the first time, researchers have mapped elusive gas clouds that are believed to hold clues about galactic evolution and star formation in the early days of the universe.

using the WM Keck Observatory at Mauna Kea in Hawaii, researchers measured the size, mass and density of ancient neutral hydrogen clouds. These massive, translucent gas clouds, also known as damped Lyman-α systems (DLAs), are estimated to be nearly 11 billion years old, acting as reservoirs of primitive gas that filled most of the early universe after the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago, eventually condensing to form some of the earliest galaxies and stars, according to a statement (opens in new tab) from the observatory.

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