Discovery News - 2010 Feb 13
Approximately 200 million years after the Big Bang, the universe was a very different place.
For starters, there was no starlight as there were no stars. This period was known descriptively as the "Dark Ages." As there were no stars, only clouds of the most basic elements persisted, fogging up the cosmos.
Although it's believed the first stars (known as "Population III stars") were sparked when hydrogen and helium gases cooled enough to clump together, collapsing under gravity and initiating nuclear fusion in the star cores (thus generating heavier elements), there's another possibility.
Around the time of early star formation it is thought there was an abundance of dark matter. Although it's not entirely clear what dark matter actually is, we know from various observations that it's out there in vast quantities. Dark matter makes up the majority of the mass of our universe and during these early days, dark matter may have fueled the earliest stars.
This may sound a little strange, but it gets even stranger than that.
A massive dark star voraciously eating matter and dark matter until it is well over 100,000 times the mass of the sun (NASA/Ian O'Neill)