Simulation of the “Dark Ages” of the universe, a period predicted by theorists to have lasted as long as several hundred million years after the Big Bang. The first hydrogen atoms in the universe had not yet coalesced into stars and galaxies. (NASA/WMAP)
Before there were planets in our solar system, there was a star that would become our sun. Before there was a sun, there were older stars and exoplanets throughout the galaxies.
Before there were galaxies with stars and exoplanets, there were galaxies with stars and no planets. Before there were galaxies without planets, there were massive singular stars.
And before that, there was darkness for more than 100 million years after the Big Bang — a cosmos without much, or at times any, light.
So how did the lights get turned on, setting the stage for all that followed? Scientists have many theories but so far only limited data.
In the coming years, that is likely to change substantially.
First, the James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled to launch in 2018, will be able to look back at distant galaxies and stars that existed in small or limited numbers during the so called Dark Ages. They gradually became ...