Astronomers want to build the “Last Great Telescope” on the Moon.
The equipment would allow scientists to see it in a way that they have no other telescope to see in depth in the universe, allowing people to study the first stars in the universe, seeing that they were lit even before galaxies were created.
Such time has been proposed in theory, but it has never been seen directly, as we do not have enough sensitive equipment to see it early enough in cosmic time.
According to a new study, the construction of a wide-angle telescope on the Moon would allow scientists to study the stars initially. The research will be published in Astrophysical Journal.
The proposed telescope would be specifically built to be transported to the Moon, sitting inside a crater, rotating and facing the initial universe.
“Throughout the history of astronomy, telescopes have become more powerful, allowing us to study sources from successive cosmic times – closer to the Big Bang,” said Volker Bromm, a professor and team member who said theorist, who has studied the first stars for decades.
“The upcoming James Webb space telescope [JWST] it will reach the moment when galaxies first formed. But the theory predicted that it existed even earlier, when galaxies did not yet exist, but when individual stars first formed – the elusive stars of Population III.
“This moment of ‘first light’ is beyond the capabilities of the powerful JWST and requires a ‘final’ telescope instead.”
The stars that first formed are unique: perhaps 100 times larger than the Sun, they were born from a mixture of hydrogen and helium gases.
The study estimates that if a liquid mirror telescope were built on the Moon’s surface, it would be able to see them, looking back in time to a point 13 million years ago. Researchers at the University of Arizona proposed a similar facility in 2008 – called the Lunar Liquid-Mirror – but NASA did not carry out the project, with the earliest star and what the telescope could see in the absence of clear science.
To make it easier to carry the telescope, it would be built more than liquid and glass. Its mirror would consist of a reflective metal liquid that would sit on a rotating bucket, maintaining its proper shape so that it could function as a mirror.
Researchers say it would be stationary on the moon’s surface, perhaps located inside a crater at the north or south pole. He would continue to stare at the same part of the sky, gathering as much light as possible.
“We live in a universe of stars,” Bromm said. “The key question is how star formation began at the beginning of cosmic history. The appearance of the first stars represents a decisive transition in the history of the universe, when the first conditions imposed by the Big Bang gave increasing cosmic complexity. they had.
“This moment of first light is beyond the capabilities of current or near-future telescopes. That’s why it’s important to think of the telescope as “finally” able to directly observe these first shooting stars at the edge of time. ”