Astronomers discover ancient star formed by Big Bang



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A team of astronomers discovered what could be one of the oldest stars in the universe, almost entirely made up of materials formed by the Big Bang.

Residing in the same part of the Milky Way galaxy as our own solar system, the star is believed to be up to 13.5 billion years, which is evidenced by its very low metal content, or metallicity, Xinhua news agency reported.

According to co-author Andrew Casey, it was previously believed that the first stars that formed in the universe could not still exist today.

"The findings are significant because for the first time we have been able to show direct evidence that there are very old low mass stars that could survive to this day without destroying themselves," Casey said.

The metallicity of the stars increases as they are born and die in a cycle that results in the creation of more and more heavy metals with the Earth's sun about 100,000 generations below that line and maintaining a metal content roughly equal to 14 Jupiteres.

Stars created at the beginning of the universe, however, would have consisted entirely of elements such as hydrogen, helium and small amounts of lithium – meaning the extremely low metallicity of the newly discovered star, roughly the same as the planet Mercury.

This suggests that it could be as little as a generation removed from the beginning of the universe, the researchers noted.

Until about 1990, scientists believed that only massive stars could have formed in the early stages of the universe, and could never be observed because they burn their fuel so quickly and die.

However, the new study showed that it is possible for low-mass stars to last as long as 13 billion years since the Big Bang – dwarf red stars, for example, that have a fraction of the mass of the sun, are thought to live by trillions of years.

–IANOS

rt / ksk / sed

(This story was not edited by the Business Standard team and is generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)

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