Messages from the early UniverseQuicklink submitted by Kyle McDermott Permalink
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|Their intense light can shine all the way across the visible Universe -- bearing witness to the earliest chapters of its roughly 13-billion-year history. Theorists' understanding of the flashes is still evolving (see 'Flash of insight'), but at the 2012 Fermi/Swift GRB conference last week in Munich, Germany, astronomers discussed how they could use GRBs to chart the chemical evolution of the cosmos as light from the bursts is filtered through gas in the galaxies in which they reside. Volker Bromm, an astronomer at the University of Texas at Austin, says that GRBs are 'cosmic Rosetta stones' that might even carry information about the composition of the Universe's very first stars, a few hundred million years after the Big Bang. 'It almost has a metaphysical appeal,' he says. 'We want to go to the moment of first light.'|
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