Twinkle, Twinkle: Dark matter may have lit up first stars | Science News

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Twinkle, Twinkle: Dark matter may have lit up first stars

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1:08pm, January 1, 2008

The earliest stars in the universe might have been beasts of a different nature than modern stars, a new model suggests. While nuclear reactions between ordinary chemical elements fuel the fire of stars like Earth's own sun, mysterious dark matter might have powered the first stars.

In the standard account of star formation, clouds of hydrogen and helium become unstable and start to cool and condense into small protostars. Shrinking under their own gravity, protostars eventually become dense and hot, and their atoms begin to fuse. This ongoing fusion reaction is the power behind starlight.

Katherine Freese and her collaborators, though, point out that this model doesn't necessarily take all the parts of the early universe into account. About 85 percent of the matter in the universe is thought to be of an invisible or dark form, which scientists can detect only indirectly.

"You've got this whole reservoir of dark matter sitting out there too. It must play some role

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