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Discovery

Heavy metal in the early cosmos

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simulation showing hydrodynamic instability of dark matter

This simulation shows hydrodynamic instability triggered by rapid cooling in a heavy-element-enriched cosmic dark matter halo when the universe was only 300 million years old. The instability drives turbulence which breaks the flow into fragments. Some fragments undergo gravitational collapse and set to fragment into progressively smaller units. From left to right and top to bottom, the six panels show projections of gas density, and the horizontal bar has length 1 pc = 3.26 light years.

Credit: Chalence Safranek-Shrader, Milos Milosavljevic, and Volker Bromm, the University of Texas at Austin


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simulation showing heavy-element-bearing sheets of an exploding star's debris

This simulation shows heavy-element-bearing sheets of an exploding star's debris streaming into the center of a cosmic dark matter halo. Upon arriving in the center, the streams will enable the formation of the first low-mass stars, when the universe was still only about 200 million years old.

Credit: Jeremy Ritter, Milos Milosavljevic, and Volker Bromm, the University of Texas at Austin.