Finding the ashes of the first stars...

Recent observations with the Hubble Space Telescope suggest that the first stars formed as little as 200 million years after the Big Bang. This is much earlier than previously thought. Astronomers have observed large amounts of iron in the ultraluminous light from very distant, ancient quasars. This iron is the 'ashes' left from supernova explosions in the very first generation of stars. Go here  for the full report. Go here  for the scientific paper (published in the 2003 April 20 Astrophysical Journal Letters).

Articles about this work were also published in (some links are obsolete):
Other on-line media outlets where this work has been reported (many are mirrors, some have been since archived, disconnected or otherwise obsolete):
The original press release from STECF/ESA and all of the above (except the Astronomy Picture of the Day) were unsolicited by the investigators. In the case of APOD, we considered the artistic rendition of the immediate environs of a high redshift quasar in a forming massive galaxy sufficiently impressive to merit a possible appearance there. 

Kirk T. Korista
Professor of Astronomy
Department of Physics
Western Michigan University
last updated: 13 June 2008