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MARCELO ALVAREZ / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MARCELO ALVAREZ / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Early star formation, image 2 of 2. Supercomputer simulation of the birth of a first generation star known as a Population III star. This is the zoomed version of image R590/115. It shows the effects of a 3 million year-old, 80-solar-mass star (unseen at centre). Neutral stellar gas is shown (blue is low density, orange to green is high density). The frame is 22,000 light-years across. Ultraviolet radiation from the star creates a bubble of ionised gas (translucent white) in the surrounding space. The black space denotes a fully ionised region. Population III stars were thought to be the first stars in the universe. It is suggested they were brighter, hotter and several times more massive than today's most luminous stars. The stars exploded into massive supernovae, known as hypernovae, and dispersed heavy elements, initiating the process that would make planets and life possible.
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