Australian Scientists Find Oldest Star in Universe at 6,000 Light Years Away

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By Reissa Su | February 10, 2014 12:02 PM EST

A team of Australian astronomers from the Australian National University has discovered a 13.6 billion year-old star which is currently the oldest known star in the universe. The latest find will give astronomers the chance to study the chemistry of the first known stars, according to a report by Guardian.

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Dr Stefan Keller, the lead researcher from the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Australian National University, declared that the discovery was a "one in a 60 million chance." Dr Keller added he and his team were pleasantly surprised about the find which he compared to finding a needle in a haystack.

The Australian scientists were able to find the star by using the SkyMapper telescope of the university located at the Siding Spring observatory in northern South Wales. The wide-field telescope is usually used to find old stars as part of an ongoing project to create the first digital map of the southern sky.

The telescope has a camera at the center with 268 pixels to be able to capture a section of the sky at least 29 times bigger than the full moon in every minute.

Mr Keller explained that they use can use imaging on the colours of stars to identify possible oldest stars. With the telescope, the Australian astronomers can determine the star's iron.  He said a young star has the most iron.

The star the astronomers discovered had 60 times more iron than all the other stars which makes the new star the oldest.  The Australian discovery was described by Mr Keller as a "time capsule" that provides new information about some of the first stars in the universe.

According to Mr Keller, the recently discovered star may have formed after a primordial star which was 60 times bigger than the sun and met its death after a supernova explosion.

Professor Mike Bessell, one of the members of the research team, said the oldest star would have a huge amount of iron equivalent to 1,000 times the Earth's mass.

The scientific discovery in Australia was confirmed by the Magellan telescope in Chile.  The oldest star is approximately 6,000 light years away from Earth. 

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(Photo: Reuters / )
The International space Station will zoom across the sky this evening in just five minutes.
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