ANU Astronomers Discover Oldest Known Star

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By Parismita Goswami | February 11, 2014 4:37 PM EST

A team of astronomers at the Australian National University (ANU) have discovered an ancient star, which is believed to have formed soon after the Big Bang about 13.7 billion years ago.

Reuters
Star-rich galaxy found from universe's baby years (representational image)

The discovery has now helped scientists to study the chemistry of the primitive stars, giving them a clearer idea about the infant universe.

The ancient star was discovered with ANU's SkyMapper telescope at the Siding Spring Observatory. This ancient star is one of the 60 million stars that were photographed by the SkyMapper telescope in its very first year.

It has been found that this newly discovered star is about 6,000 light years from Earth.

The composition of this star shows that it was formed as a result of a primitive star, which had a mass 60 times than that of the 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. 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", lead researcher, Dr Stefan Keller of the ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics said in a statement.

It was earlier thought that primitive stars died in violent explosions, which resulted in pollution of the space with iron. However, this ancient star showed signs of polluting with relatively lighter elements such as magnesium and carbon.

"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," Keller added.

This huge discovery is expected to solve a long standing difference between predictions and observations of the Big Bang.

The details of the findings have been published in Nature Journal

(Photo: Reuters / )
Star-rich galaxy found from universe's baby years (representational image)
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