March 14 (UPI) -- Astronomers in Japan are searching for the universe's first stars. Specifically, scientists are looking for the deaths of the cosmos' first stars -- the earliest supernovae.
For the first 100 million years after the Big Bang, the universe was mostly just hydrogen and helium. The cosmos didn't become more chemically diverse until the first stars were born and began forging newer, heavier elements, like metals.
Stars are born of the materials found in the cosmos. Thus, the first generation of stars, born more than 13 billion years ago, were metal-poor.
Astronomers hypothesize the death of metal-poor stars produce a blue-tinged supernovae. Using their knowledge of more recent metal-poor stars, astronomers at the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe built a model to predict the progression of the universe's first supernovae.
Their analysis showed the explosions of the universe's first stars likely followed the same patterns as later generations, a bright flash followed by a 'plateau' of constant luminosity. The earliest supernovae, the model predicted, featured blue light and a shorter, fainter initial flash, as well as a shorter, softer plateau.
Scientists say the next generation of space telescopes -- like the James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled to launch next year -- will be able to detect the exploded blue light of the universe's first stars.