Star at Edge of Milky Way Closest to Composition of Big Bang Ever Discovered
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October 14, 2013

Star at Edge of Milky Way Closest to Composition of Big Bang Ever Discovered

 

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Today's Most Popular: A primordial star discovered in 2012 at the outer edges of our Milky Way galaxy upsets current theories of star formation in the universe. The star simply shouldn't exist since it lacks the materials astronomers have long thought necessary for low-mass stars to form, scientists say. When Lorenzo Monaco of the European Southern Observatory in Chile and colleagues examined the elemental composition of the oddball star, prosaically named SDSS J102915+172927 (image below), they discovered that it has a mass smaller than that of the Sun, and is probably more than 13 billion years old.

"This star has the composition that is the nearest that has been found up to now to the big bang composition," says Piercarlo Bonifacio of the Paris Observatory, France.

The low concentration of chemical elements heavier than hydrogen and helium suggests it is the most primitive star ever discovered, yet the exact ratio of these heavier elements suggests it is younger. Much, much younger.

"In some sense it is a perfectly normal star, but it is different because it's in a very low metal range," Monaco says. The relationship between a star's age and its elemental composition stems from the way the early universe evolved.

The first stars are thought to have condensed out of the hot soup left over from the big bang and contained only hydrogen, helium and a trace of lithium. Most were giants tens of times more massive than the sun, that quickly exploded as supernovas spewing elements from carbon to iron, which subsequent generations of stars incorporated. The process occurred again and again, with younger generations of smaller stars acquiring larger fractions of heavier elements. Which is how our Sun eventually formed.

Until now, the universe seemed to agree. Astronomers had found only three stars with very low amounts of heavier elements. They were low-mass, and oxygen and carbon dominated the traces of heavier elements, which meant they passed the carbon-oxygen threshold needed to form a low-mass star – despite having a very low concentration of heavier elements overall.

But SDSS J102915+172927 is different and a mystery: it's composed almost entirely hydrogen and helium, making it look like one of the very first in the universe. When Monaco and colleagues used two spectrographs at the Very Large Telescope in Chile to examined its elemental composition, they found it had the lowest content of heavier elements ever seen yet – 4.5 millionths that of the sun.

 

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But similar to modern stars, its oxygen and carbon levels do not dominate over the other heavier elements. This means there is not enough carbon and oxygen overall to meet the critical threshold needed to form a low-mass star. According to the theory, this star should not have been able to form. One theory is that that the star is indeed near-primordial and that its nursery was cooled interstellar dust rather than carbon and oxygen.

It's also possible that low-mass, low-metal stars like this one could be detritus from giant stars' birth, suggests Abraham Loeb of Harvard University according to New Scientist.

 The Daily Galaxy via ESO

 

Comments

i for one am against the BigBangTheory and always was. In my opinion, what you think is the red shifting phenomena, is in fact just an effect of the slowing speed of the light as bigger distances are involved. I believe that there is a limit a ray of light can travel, may it be 14 billion LY, after which the light effectively dissipates and dies because of the slowing speed. This is why we`ll never see beyond that limit, but in my opinion the Universe is infinite. Feel free to contradict me please.

I'm not a astronomer or physicist, but just a curious person about the universe. And so, i'd like to ask why do you think light is slowing down? What could create that decelaration? dark matter (which makes the universe expands)? Other forces?

That star is loooong gone.

@ Knize 10 - that star is at the edge of our galaxy. It is very unlikely to be gone at all, let alone long gone.It is probably no more than 30 or 40 thousand light years away, although a search has failed to turn up any distance estimates. The Milky Way itself is estimated to be 100,000 ly across.

@ Gaugain. How can the Universe be infinite while growing? However the Universe is much larger and rather different from the Universe described by the theory of the “big bang”.

Could there be a problem with our instrumentation? fundamental scienctific assumptions? or overall knowledge? Maybe like our
solar system the lighter materials got blown out farther away
from the center. Then a small push in the rigth direction began
the eventual collapse of the material and..voila..a new star is
born looking like "we think" the ealier stars looked like. Why is it so hard to imagine? With the infinite possibilities that
are around us is this so unlikely? There are stranger things
out there than are dreamt of in your philosophy. Poor paraphrasing....I know.

@Gaugain I agree! How can I get a hold of you?

@Vaggelis if redshift is not caused by Doppler then the universe is not expanding/growing.

I agree with Gugain. The speed of light may not be constant with the passage of astronomical times. In fact, the constancy of the physical constants is not intrinsically tied to any fundamental concept like homogeneity of space and time. Even momentary inhomogeniety can develop in space and time, resulting in generation of mass and energy release. Gravity linkage with Quantum Physics is still in doubt and so also with the other fundamental force fields. There is lot of Physics yet ot to be understood in depth.

Here is what I have in mind with an email address at the bottom:

monadpad.com/bigbang.pdf


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