Oldest Star In The Universe Discovered
Australian National University astronomers have found the universe’s oldest known star. They say it formed shortly after the Big Bang around 13.7 billion years ago.
"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 astronomer Stefan Keller in a university statement.
The discovery, a relatively close 6,000 light years away from Earth, is letting researchers study the chemistry of early stars and giving them a better idea of the universe’s beginning. It was later confirmed using the Magellan telescope in Chile.
The ancient star, called SMSS J031300.36−670839.3, was discovered at the Siding Spring Observatory using the SkyMapper telescope. Its discovery is part of a broader five-year project to produce the first digital map of the southern sky. SkyMapper has already photographed more than 60 million stars during its first year of operation.
The composition of their find indicates it formed in the wake of a primordial star that was 60 times the mass 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,” Keller said. “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.”
Their work so far and further research into ancient star composition may resolve a long-standing discrepancy between observations and predictions concerning the Big Bang.
“The stars we are finding number one in a million,” said discovery team member Mike Bessell.
The discovery was published in the latest edition of Nature.
Top image: Stefan Keller with the SkyMapper telescope, courtesy of Australian National University.