Professor Rennan Barkana studies the formation and evolution of the first stars. He constructs models in order to predict the properties of the galaxies in which the first stars formed, and studies ways to probe these early galaxies, especially via radio-wave radiation from hydrogen atoms at a wavelength of 21 cm.
He led a study published in 2012 that proposed a new method for detecting the first stars from the early era when the age of the Universe was only one percent of its current age. Another ground-breaking study (published in 2014) predicted for the first time the observational signatures of black holes in the early galaxies resulting from the heating of the cosmic gas when the Universe was half a billion years old. In 2018 he showed that an observation of radio waves from the formation time of the first stars in the Universe shows that dark matter cooled the early cosmic gas. If this discovery is confirmed by further measurements, it will be a milestone in physics, the first direct detection of the mysterious dark matter that makes up most of the matter in the Universe.