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Clemson scientists measure all of the starlight ever produced by the observable universe

From their laboratories on a rocky planet dwarfed by the vastness of space, Clemson University scientists have managed to measure all of the starlight ever produced throughout the history of the observable universe.

Astrophysicists believe that our universe, which is about 13.7 billion years old, began forming the first stars when it was a few hundred million years old. Since then, the universe has become a star-making tour de force. There are now about two trillion galaxies and a trillion-trillion stars. Using new methods of starlight measurement, Clemson College of Science astrophysicist Marco Ajello and his team analyzed data from NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope to determine the history of star formation over most of the universe’s lifetime.

A collaborative paper titled “A gamma-ray determination of the Universe’s star-formation history” was published Nov. 30 in the journal Science and describes the results and ramifications of the team’s new measurement process.

Other contributing authors on the paper include Kari Helgason of the University of Iceland; Justin Finke of the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C.; and Alberto Dominguez, a former postdoctoral researcher in Ajello’s group who is now at the Complutense University of Madrid.

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