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The cosmic dark ages lasted no more than 180 million years.
Astronomers have picked up a long-sought signal from some of the universe's first stars, determining that these pioneers were burning bright by just 180 million years after the Big Bang.
Scientists had long suspected that dawn broke over the cosmos that long ago; theorists' models predict as much. But researchers had never had the evidence to back it up until now. Before this new study, the oldest stars ever seen dated to about 400 million years after the Big Bang.
"This pushes our knowledge of when and how stars formed to earlier times in the universe," said study lead author Judd Bowman, an astronomer at Arizona State University's School of Earth and Space Exploration.
These very ancient stars were trailblazers. Though they coalesced from primordial hydrogen and helium, they set in motion a continuing process of star birth and death that ended up, over the eons, seeding the universe with heavy elements — the stuff that rocky planets like Earth are made of.
The intense record heat baking the south-central United States is expected to get trimmed back early this week, but a sweep of refreshing air is not on the horizon.
This past weekend's rainstorm was only the start of an abnormally wet pattern that will elevate the flood risk in the eastern United States into the end of the month.
Despite NASCAR moving up the start time of the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301, rain has hung on and delayed the race at Loudon, New Hampshire.
Yet another round of severe weather is threatening the southeastern United States to close out this weekend.
The remainder of July will be dominated by a resurgence of heat across the northwestern United States.
An uptick in monsoon rainfall is expected to heighten the flood threat across eastern and northern India this week.