Faint ‘whispers’ from the Moon may unveil the the first billion years of the Universe’s evolution, which has yet to be observed in detail. Very little is known about the first stars and galaxies that came into existence in this early period. One avenue to explore this epoch is to study the faint radio waves from neutral hydrogen atoms.
Thirteen billion years ago our universe was dark. There were neither stars nor galaxies; there was only hydrogen gas left over after the Big Bang. Eventually hydrogen atoms began to clump together to form stars—the very first ones to exist—initiating a major phase in the evolution of the universe, known as the Epoch of Reionization, or EoR.
“You’ve heard of electric cars and e-books, but now we are talking about electric dark matter,” said Julian Munoz of Harvard University. “However, this electric charge is on the very smallest of scales.”
During this dark age, there was no light-based signal we can study —”there was no visible light” said University of Washington professor of physics, Miguel Morales, about the dark age, the starless era, a gap of several hundred million years following the Big Bang devoid of data, when elementary particles combined to form hydrogen but no stars or galaxies existed yet to light up the Universe.
The neutral hydrogen gas that filled the universe during the first few hundred million years after the Big Bang absorbed ambient light, leading to what cosmologists and science fiction authors poetically call the “dark ages,” although the cosmos was filled with a diffuse ambient light from the cosmic microwave background (CMB) — the “afterglow” of the Big Bang.