By Becky Ferreira
All around the world, radio antennae in remote landscapes are scanning the sky for the same faint signal from the “cosmic dawn,” a time when the first stars shone more than 12 billion years ago.
If detected, the signal will shed light on some of the most enduring mysteries about the origins of, well, everything—stars, galaxies, even the enigmatic dark matter and dark energy that scientists think makes up 95 percent of the universe’s mass. In fact, the discovery would be so significant that at least one of the many teams hunting for the signal thinks it would be a likely candidate for the Nobel Prize.
“There is a lot of competition about who will be there first, but on the other hand, there is also collaboration and knowledge that is shared,” said Anastasia Fialkov, a senior research fellow at the Kavli Institute for Cosmology in Cambridge, UK, in a call.
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