What were the Universe's dark ages?

Dr Emma Chapman

400 million years after the Big Bang, the Universe was very different from what it appears today. At that time (around 13 billion years ago) the universe was dark and empty. But how can we know that? Is there a way to travel back in time?

Learn about this Garden Talk

400 million years after the Big Bang the Universe was very different from what it appears today. In fact, at that time, around 13 billion years ago, the universe appeared dark and empty as it slowly expanded. Suddenly the first stars formed, lighting up the Universe and forming the galaxies we see today.

That era has never been observed and constitutes over a billion-year gap in our knowledge – equivalent to missing everything from birth to entry to school. It is a time full of exotic astrophysics such as stars one hundred times the mass of our Sun, dark matter and baby black holes. But these first objects gave out heat and light, leaving traces that we can finally observe for the first time using radio telescopes.

Join award-winning physicist Emma Chapman as she takes us on a journey through the dark ages of our universe and draws a picture of what we know about this mysterious period of our existence.

How did the universe come to be and why are the dark ages of the universe so important for us to understand?

Talk outline


50 minutes

What to expect

30 minute talk

20 minute Member Q&A

About the Fellow

Dr Emma Chapman

Emma is an award-winning British physicist and Senior Royal Society Fellow at Nottingham University. She researches the light coming from the very first stars that appeared in the universe, right after the Big Bang.

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