Scientists have created a new type of spectrograph that has already helped estimate the metal abundance in the early universe. Besides, this tool – WINERED – will allow you to learn more about quasars in the early universe billions of years ago.
The researchers hope that a new, deeper level of research will help answer questions about the origin of metals in the universe and the stars themselves.
Iron is one of the most important elements of life. But details of the exact origins of iron and other important metals such as magnesium remain unknown. The study of the origin of metals is associated with the first stars’ birth several hundred million years after the Big Bang.
Researcher Hiroaki Sameshima from the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Tokyo concluded that the existing instruments for studying this aspect of astronomy are insufficient, and a new instrument is needed. Previous studies in visible light were limited to astronomical bodies 4 billion years old. Their new instrument, sensitive to near-infrared light, will open up the possibility of observing distant quasars – the high-energy ancient galactic nuclei. They emitted light when the universe was only 2.4 billion years old.
By installing the WINERED instrument on a large telescope, we can look into the distant past and observe more distant and ancient astronomical objects than those in previous studies. We have access to the details of quasars, which are already 10 billion. WINERED is a special kind of spectrograph that reads chemical signatures in the light of distant bodies. He showed traces of iron and magnesium in the light of distant quasars. This made it possible to calculate the number of these elements when the universe was much younger.
Hiroaki Sameshima of the University of Tokyo Astronomy Institute
Now that researchers have developed a new method for directly studying the early universe’s metal content, they face a new challenge. The methodology needs to be improved and empowered to collect more data. With them, astronomers can create theories that explain the origin of various metals in the universe.