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Published on Oct 19, 2012
"From Cosmic Dawn to the First Planets: The Rise of Complexity" Dr. Roberto Abraham - University of Toronto
The universe soon after the Big Bang was a dark, bleak place, devoid of galaxies, stars, planets and even the basic elements of life. This cosmic dark age ended with "First Light" - the illumination produced by the first generation of stars and galaxies. We know almost nothing about these early objects except that they somehow began a cycle of cosmic birth, death and rebirth, in a chain reaction that ultimately resulted in the complex Universe seen around us today. In this lecture I will show how, after decades of searching, astronomers are now on the verge of finally observing the sources of First Light, using the latest generation of monster telescopes, both on Earth and in space. I will also highlight some recent work suggesting that we may now be detecting light from the formation of solar systems in distant galaxies, thus witnessing the formation of planets billions of years before our own Earth came into existence.