A Q&A with Harvard astronomer Abraham (Avi) Loeb in Air & Space Magazine

Princeton University Press author and Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb was recently interviewed by the Smithsonian’s Air & Space Magazine which ran in their in their September issue. Here’s a brief excerpt:

Air & Space: What discoveries do you expect in the near future that will help explain the early history of the universe?

Loeb: In the next five years, astronomers will try to detect the scars that the first galaxies left on the hydrogen gas surrounding them. When stars form, they produce ultraviolet radiation that can ionize, or break, the hydrogen atoms into their constituent electrons and protons. You end up with bubbles of ionized hydrogen surrounding galaxies and groups of galaxies. We haven’t yet seen the process during which the very first galaxies formed and produced these bubbles. That’s one of the exciting new frontiers in studies of the early history of our universe. The imaging technique of hydrogen resembles slicing Swiss cheese and finding the holes in it.

A & S: Once we see this process, will that also explain why present-day galaxies like the Milky Way, look the way they do?

Loeb: It will tell us how the process started. We’re basically looking at our origins. The early universe was not hospitable for life. Only after that first generation of stars fused hydrogen in their cores to make heavier elements like carbon, oxygen, and iron, could rocky planets like the Earth form and life begin….

Read more at their site by clicking the above link!