astronomy: universe changed color over time

When most people think of the color of the universe, the black of its vast, inky depths probably comes to mind. If it were possible to view the average of all the visible light in the universe, the true color actually would be kind of beige — but it appears that the universe was a decidedly more colorful in its youth. An international team of researchers reported in the Dec. 20 Astrophysical Journal that the universe was bluer 11,500 million years ago when it was only 2,500 million years old, because of all the young stars. As they aged and turned redder, they tinted the universe. “Our new findings imply that the majority of stars in the universe were formed comparatively late, not so long before our sun was born, at a moment when the universe was around 7,000 million years old,” stated team leader Gregory Rudnick from the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Germany.

This news brief appeared in the Discoveries column of the Boston Globe’s Health/Science section on 1/06/2003.
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