Prof. Rennan Barkana studies the era of the formation of the first stars in the Universe. He constructs models and simulations in order to predict the properties of the galaxies in which the first stars and black holes formed, and studies ways to observe them, especially with radio waves from hydrogen at a wavelength of 21 cm.
In 2012 he predicted a new observational pattern from the first stars, from the time when the Universe was only 1% of its current age. Another ground-breaking study in 2014 predicted the observational signature of the first black holes in the earliest galaxies as a result of heating of the cosmic gas, when the Universe was half a billion years old. In 2018 he showed that a surprising radio-wave signal from the cosmic dawn could be explained by an interaction through which the dark matter cooled the early cosmic gas; if this discovery is confirmed by further observations, it will mark a milestone in physics: the first direct signature from the mysterious dark matter that makes up most of the matter in the Universe.