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Darkness Reigned for 550M Years

Stars didn't appear until 100M years later than we thought
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 15, 2015 3:05 PM CST
Darkness Reigned for 550M Years
A dome displays artist impressions of the universe in Jena, central Germany, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014.   (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)

(Newser) – After the Big Bang, it was dark for a very, very long time—even longer than experts had previously believed, the Smithsonian reports. Scientists had thought that the dark period between the Big Bang and the emergence of the first stars lasted about 440 million years, the Press Association reports via the Guardian. But new research using the European Space Agency’s Planck telescope suggests that period—often called the "Dark Ages" of the universe, Space.com notes—was actually more like 550 million years.

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The new findings are based on an extra year's worth of data compared to an earlier estimate. "While these 100 million years may seem negligible compared to the universe's age of almost 14 billion years, they make a significant difference when it comes to the formation of the first stars," a researcher notes in a statement. In short, our stars are younger than we thought, as Space.com puts it. (If you ask most Americans, however, they'll tell you they have their doubts about the Big Bang theory.)

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