"The New Methuselah" --Oldest Star in Universe Discovered 6,000 Light Years from Solar System
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February 10, 2014

"The New Methuselah" --Oldest Star in Universe Discovered 6,000 Light Years from Solar System

 

Stars-milky-way-cfht

A team led by astronomers at The Australian National University has discovered the oldest known star in the Universe, which formed shortly after the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago. The discovery has allowed astronomers for the first time to study the chemistry of the first stars, giving scientists a clearer idea of what the Universe was like in its infancy.

"This is the first time that we've been able to unambiguously say that we've found the chemical fingerprint of a first star," said lead researcher, Dr Stefan Keller of the ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

"This is one of the first steps in understanding what those first stars were like. What this star has enabled us to do is record the fingerprint of those first stars."

The star was discovered using the ANU SkyMapper telescope at the Siding Spring Observatory, which is searching for ancient stars as it conducts a five-year project to produce the first digital map the southern sky.

The ancient star is around 6,000 light years from Earth, which Dr Keller says is relatively close in astronomical terms. It is one of the 60 million stars photographed by SkyMapper in its first year.

"The stars we are finding number one in a million," says team member Professor Mike Bessell, who worked with Keller on the research.

"Finding such needles in a haystack is possible thanks to the ANU SkyMapper telescope that is unique in its ability to find stars with low iron from their colour."

Dr Keller and Professor Bessell confirmed the discovery using the Magellan telescope in Chile.

The composition of the newly discovered star shows it formed in the wake of a primordial star, which had a mass 60 times that of our Sun.

"To make a star like our Sun, you take the basic ingredients of hydrogen and helium from the Big Bang and add an enormous amount of iron – the equivalent of about 1,000 times the Earth's mass," Dr Keller says.

"To make this ancient star, you need no more than an Australia-sized asteroid of iron and lots of carbon. It's a very different recipe that tells us a lot about the nature of the first stars and how they died."

Dr Keller says it was previously thought that primordial stars died in extremely violent explosions which polluted huge volumes of space with iron. But the ancient star shows signs of pollution with lighter elements such as carbon and magnesium, and no sign of pollution with iron.

"This indicates the primordial star's supernova explosion was of surprisingly low energy. Although sufficient to disintegrate the primordial star, almost all of the heavy elements such as iron, were consumed by a black hole that formed at the heart of the explosion," he says.

The result may resolve a long-standing discrepancy between observations and predictions of the Big Bang.

This new discovery trumps what astronomers believed was the oldest known in the universe with a well determined age, 13.2 billion years old formed shortly after the Big Bang. Dubbed HD 140283, lies at a comparatively short distance of 186 light years from our Solar System and has been studied by astronomers for more than a century. Researchers have long known that the object consists almost entirely of hydrogen and helium, a hallmark of having formed early in the history of the universe, before successive generations of stars had a chance to forge heavier elements.

The discovery was published in the latest edition of the journal Nature.

Comments

Well does this help creationists? 6000 light years away seems relatively close.

The New Methuselah is the oldest star in the universe being born just after the Big Bang, but the position of this Primordial star is 6,000 light years from Earth. I had assumed that distance and time were equatable; would that make the star only 6,000 years old? It took the light from this star only 6,000 years to reach us, but is 13 billion years old. Would this only happen if we were traveling back through time, and would be 6,000 years prior to the Big Bang? Even if this is not the case of the first galaxies being born after the Big Bang; on galaxy being just 186 light years and the other being 6,000 light years is a big difference. I thought that the first galaxies would have been born closer to the center of the universe, and not in the backwoods, hollers and the countryside of the universe; we are not the cosmopolitan of the universe. We are the backwoods country folk of the universe,but we aren't the backwoods hillbillies either.

@kristi276,
I agree. This is totally and utterly nonsense!
"The oldest star of 13.? bill. years only 6.000 ly away"? I would like to see an "artist's illustration" of this imagery.
This really says it all.
The astrophysicist's ideas of elementary and stellar formation and evolution are totally wrong. One cannot determine the age of a star by its composition of gasses and particles that are unevenly distributed in the visible Universe just like the distribution of supergalactic clusters.
The only thing that determines a stellar formation is what specific gasses and particles are at hand when it forms - and stellar formations takes place all over the place and with all kinds of compositions.

Dear Space Angels,
BRAVO, for nice pics, not sure on you identity of events though.
I am wondering just a question, can you photo the thousands of fragments floating in high speed from the blown up satellite that the Chinese did as merely target shooting, I hear that these fragment at high velocity and can injure star ships or even out cameras..or other satellites..
Are we mistaking these fragments for other clusters of organics growing?
Give it a thought will you. thanks
Dr. B

13.7 bilions years old and only 6000 LY far (in our milky way backyard) ... You really, can't see something wrong with that picture? Some of their initial assumptions must be wrong ...


They considered that after big bang H and He were formed, then primordial stars had only H and He and produced C, O and other light elements; then the stars collapsed / exploded and from the supernova remnant (and interaction with other gases) it formed second and third generation of stars with heavy elements.

Now they found a star that is made mainly of H and He and a bit of light elements and conclude that must be a primordial star as old the big bang...

Wrong, not all stars started forming at the same time because not all H and He clouds had same density to create sufficient gravity. Those more dense formed faster but in those space regions with very rare/low gas density (and without other exploding supernovas nearby) the gravity formed stars slower and the fusion ignited later. So seeing a generation 1 star doesn't mean is as old as the big bang, it means that formed much later.

Please calculate if that star burned and fuse atoms continuously for 13.7 billion years what will be the concentration of light and heavier elements. It will not be surprising if would not be possible to exist (as would collapse/ supernova) or would had to have higher concentration of heavy elements than 2nd or 3rd generation stars (since it burned continuously for more time).

If you show me a nebula (with primordial stars) 13.7-10 ly away i will believe it is that old, but not a 6000 ly away.

@Singaporistu,

Astrophysicists and cosmologists project their idea of the solar system formation and the formation of elements out on every other star and combine their ideas of formation of elements to the unscientific idea of Big Bang, which is wrong for several reasons.

First, the solar system is an integrated part of the galactic rotation and formation and logically should be understood as a part of the galactic formation of elements and stars and NOT as "a local cloud of gas and dust that suddenly decides to collapse via gravity".

Secondly, gas and dust are not evenly distributed in the visible universe and therefore all other stars logically cannot be categorized out from the 1 star in our solar system.

Thirdly and consequently, no stars can be aged by the contents of gases and "metallic elements".

Lastly, because of the cyclic formation in the universe, all gases and particles forms and dissolves stars and planets over and over again, so also here "time and age" is out of the overall equation.


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