Scientists Capture Cosmic Explosion from 12.1B Years Ago, Right After the Big Bang


All photographs show a moment that is already gone, but the image you see above is unlike any other, because, while recently captured, it shows a cosmic explosion that took place approximately 12.1 billion years ago.

Highlighted within the blue and yellow circle, on April 19th, Southern Methodist University telescopes captured a photo of a gamma-ray burst — light from a rare, high-energy explosion — that is believed to have been emitted not long after what is commonly referred to as the Big Bang.

The team from SMU used what is presumably a very high-end telescope setup to capture the low-resolution image. But as small in megapixels as the photo may be, it captures data that many scientists will be anxiously awaiting to pour over in order to better understand the structure of the early universe.

It may seem like a small feat to many, but it is indeed an impressive capture considering these photons of light travelled 7.5e+19 miles to hit the sensor of the camera. A number so large that it’s nearly impossible to truly wrap your mind around it.

(via Engadget)

Image credits: Photographs by Southern Methodist University

  • Douglas James

    I see me

  • Rick Scheibner

    Mind blown.

  • arachnophilia

    the big bang was about 13.79 billion years ago, give or take 37 million years. 12.1 billion years ago was not “right after the big bang”. it was about 1.5 billions years after the big bang, about 10% of the entire age of the universe.

    to put that in perspective, 1.5 billion years ago, on earth, was about the time that sexual reproduction first happened, and the first multicellular life. 1.5 billion years is the difference between us reading this on the internet, and bacteria.

  • Mojo

    “…that is believed to have been emitted not long after what is commonly referred to as the Big Bang.” Gotta admire their blind faith in something that is not provable, not testable, not repeatable, yet is talked about like a fact…just like a religion!

  • Mojo

    That depends on which standard you’re using. By current beliefs, yes, it’s now at 13.79B. But in 1929, the belief was 2B. By 1955, it was at 5B. In ’93 it was changed to 12-20B, and then most recently in 2006 the party line was changed to 13.7B. Too bad science isn’t involved in any of this.

  • Erik Edmund

    Except it is testable and falsifiable. The Big Bang may not end up being our final explanation for the origins of the universe as we know it, but it was arrived at by following a trail of evidence back to a conclusion. Religion and science are not two sides of a coin, no matter how badly you want that to be true.

    Stop this argument, theists. It’s not a winning one.

  • Mojo

    Ok. You saying it’s testable and falifiable doesn’t make it so. That’s your belief. And it was arrived at by making an assumption and looking at the trail of evidence through the lens of that assumption.
    Stop this argument, atheists. Your Canon 5D Mark III didn’t make itself, and neither did the entire well-designed universe.

  • Mike

    You’re just going to shoot down every argument with “but it’s your belief”.

    Moderators, handle this troll please.

  • Erik Edmund

    LOL. I can see this would be a rewarding conversation. Just know that you’re demonstrably wrong. Every point you make can be addressed, if you’re willing to listen. You aren’t, though.

    PS That was pretty creepy, but you got the camera model wrong.

  • Mike

    That actually is how science works. Methods improve.
    If science wasn’t involved, you’d still be raping and pillaging the other caves for some berries the others have gathered.

  • Mojo

    I didn’t put a religious article on what should be a website about photography…

  • Lukas Prochazka

    The one thing I like about science is that it is evolving and always pushing forward by human inteligence and capacity, so it will always go beyond because that’s in human nature, yet the religion is set and it can’t change so by human envolving will change science but religion stay at one point….thus people won’t rely on it nor listen to it because there will be nothing to learn.

  • Mike

    They recorded light to make an image. Photography. Context does not matter. The vast majority of the article talked about the photographic process, and only some words were the offensive “religious” stuff you were so offended by.

    Troll somewhere else, man.

  • Mojo

    “Co-exist”… “Tolerance”…from the left, that means “think like us, or else we’ll try to silence you.”

  • Mojo

    I greatly enjoy science as well. It’s incredible how well the universe was designed. We live in an irreducably complex system that’s so well tuned and fitted for our lives. Learning how and why it works is fascinating. Learning how we can use what’s at our disposal to make our lives better is something we should always be persuing. That doesn’t require evolution.

  • Lukas Prochazka

    Well let’s see we not gonna resolve the worlds greatest question of the time here…but mistical allmighty man who lives in skied didnt creat the world there is so much stuff that doesnt match, why he would create perfect world and not so perfect book?

  • Lukas Prochazka

    and about evolution it’s a theory, that means it can change and it is changing because Darwin’s theory of evolution is saying we are elvolving in order to survive, but we would never then get rid off the fur we had because that made us week in winter and we needed to wear some clothes…but you can see evolution in every day’s life…there is no doubt about evolution as it self

  • Mojo

    It takes science to not rape someone? Hmm…

  • Adam Cross

    I wouldn’t really call it “blind faith”. Someone didn’t just write this down from nowhere and everyone started believing it to be true. But if you want to be that short sighted, carry on.

  • Mike

    It takes science to allow you to share your funny opinions on the internet.

  • ninpou_kobanashi

    Photo captured by Southern Methodist University.

  • Knut77

    Not for your sake Mojo, but for those whose minds are still open I’ll point out a few salient examples of how science works, vis a vis the big bang. In the 1920s George Lemaitre, a Belgian priest and physicist, realized, when studying the mathematics of relativity, that a static universe was untenable. It either expanded, or expanded, slowed and then contracted due to gravity. Einstein was initially skeptical but eventually accepted the notion. Also in the 1920s Edwin Hubble demonstrated the expansion of the universe by measuring galaxies’ red shifts. If the universe was expanding then it had to have been smaller in the past. George Gamow and Robert Dicke both predicted in the 1940s that if all that matter and energy was in a smaller volume in the past there should be residual radiation that should be detectable. Almost 20 years later Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson were trying to get rid of an annoying hiss in a microwave antenna operated by Bell Labs for satellite communication. The hiss was the same no matter what direction they pointed the thing. Eventually it was realized that what they were picking up was the residual radiation of the big bang, now termed the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation, precisely as had been predicted. Theory, refinement of theory, predictions of consequences of theory, discovery of the predicted consequences of theory. That is a stellar example of the practice of science.

  • Knut77

    You know why guys like Mojo imagine that scientists just pull ideas out of their asses and force them on everyone else? Because that is what dogmatists like him do. They don’t have the imagination to conceive of anything beyond propaganda.

  • SpaceMan

    Bad Mojo

  • Erik Edmund

    You don’t even understand the creationist buzzwords you’re parroting. Irreducible complexity has been thoroughly debunked, but it refers to organisms that theoretically couldn’t have come about through evolution. The big example is the bacterial flagellum, which God equipped with a little motor so it could more effectively cause disease in third world children.

    You’re working backwards from your conclusion, fitting evidence to it where you can. I know I won’t change your mind because, unlike science, you aren’t looking for answers; you think you’ve already got them. That’s fine I suppose, but you forfeit your right to act intellectually superior when your ideology is unmoving and unmovable. Science thrives on falsifiability. Religion fears it.

  • Oskarkar

    ”the time that sexual reproduction first happened” – any proof of that? I mean a video or a picture at least???

  • Peter Erwin

    For those who are curious about the imaging: this was obtained with a robotic 45-cm-diameter telescope at Mount Hamilton in Texas. The imaging chip is a square CCD with 4 megapixels, cooled to about -40 degrees. (What’s impressive is that they got this image less than 30 seconds after the gamma-ray observatory Swift detected the initial burst of gamma rays.)

    Of course, you can’t tell what the redshift (and thus the distance, time of origin, etc.) is just from a single image like this; that extra information comes from spectroscopy with the 8-meter Gemini North Telescope in Hawaii.

  • Evelyn Pham

    Chloe . true that
    Brandon `s remark is really cool… I just got a great Ariel Atom when I got
    my check for $4535 this past 4 weeks and even more than ten/k this past-month
    . it’s by-far my favourite-job Ive ever done . I began this four months/ago
    and pr

  • behindthecamera

    *pore over.

  • arachnophilia

    i think you’re a little mistaken about how science works. it’s not a belief; it is conclusions drawn from evidence. and as more evidence is presented, conclusions get better and more accurate.

    there are multiple lines of evidence that support an age of the universe at about 14 billion years. that we can see stars about this age (and no older) is a fairly strong indication that this figure is approximately accurate. in contrast, under the YEC model, we shouldn’t be able to see stars more than 6,000 light years away, which is actually a very small portion of our galaxy.

  • arachnophilia

    uh, YOUR belief that science is a religion doesn’t make it so. YOUR belief that it conflicts with your religion is YOUR problem. science isn’t out to get you. it’s a religiously neutral search for truth. if that truth conflicts with your religion, well, you’ll have to deal with that. but that doesn’t make a topic covering scientific matter “religious”.

  • arachnophilia

    > We live in an irreducably complex system that’s so well tuned and fitted for our lives.

    in actuality, our lives were tuned and fitted to the system.

    and “irreducibly complex” is usually applied to BIOLOGICAL systems, not cosmological systems. have you read michael behe’s book? because i have. you might be surprised to note that he doesn’t particularly object to most of modern biology, including (mostly universal) common descent. he just takes special exception for SOME things, and thinks a designed tinkered here and there, but left the biology mostly to its own devices.

    it’s not about cosmology though!

  • arachnophilia

    there’s a great youtube series on questioning and testing geocentrism. it’s not directly applicable, but it’s a phenomenal look into how we know about our place in the universe, and what kind of testable predictions science makes, vs those necessarily implied by dogma.

  • Jigsaw

    I’m an atheist and trust science for the most part. But riddle me this: if the universe was created by the Big Bang, meaning everything emanated from a single point in space, how is it that the light of an explosion from that long ago would only reach us now, considering that the material that makes up our solar system must have been just around the corner of that explosion, before the expansion of the universe.

    That light only reaching us now would mean that the universe expanded with more than light speed, leaving the light of that explosion way behind for 12 billion years, which would only catch up to us now. How’s that possible if nothing can travel faster than the speed of light? And if the universe didn’t expand faster than light, where was the light of that explosion for all those years? Stuck in customs?

  • JanetteNash

    “Stuck in customs”!
    But that was my first thought also – looking forward to receiving a coherent explanation…