Skip navigation    
The Why Files Cool Science Images
      Browse archived CSI's:
      biology Earth & Space Environment Health Physical Science Technology
Positively Primordial

A wish you may and a wish you might, you won’t see any of the first stars tonight.

Our own sun is a third generation star. Like all other stars in the sky today, it contains no primordial gases – the hydrogen and helium created right after the Big Bang. These gases contained the nuclei that eventually became the first stars.

So where did the first stars go?

Satellite images such as this one taken by NASA might give us a clue. This CSI is a computer composite that represents astronomy’s best guess about the size of the first stars. When these rings of gas condensed together, they probably formed a star 30 times the size of our sun.

Once these huge stars were formed, their gases were quickly fused into heavier, volatile elements that then exploded. The matter cast out into the universe during these explosions eventually became second and third generation stars.

Photo courtesy NASA

  Back to The Why Files