10/02/14 09:00 CET
| updated xx mn ago
| updated at xx
Australian astronomers have found the oldest known star in the universe, a discovery that may help to resolve a long-standing discrepancy between observations and predictions of the Big Bang billions of years ago.
Dr Stefan Keller, lead researcher at the Australian National University Research School, told Reuters his team had seen the chemical fingerprint of the “first star”. After 11 years of searching, the star was discovered using the SkyMapper telescope at the Siding Spring Observatory.
“This star was formed shortly after the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago,” Keller said.
“It’s giving us insight into our fundamental place in the universe. What we’re seeing is the origin of where all the material around us that we need to survive came from.”
Simply put, the Big Bang was the inception of the universe, he said, with nothing before that event. The ancient star is about 6,000 light years from Earth – relatively close in astronomical terms. It was one of 60 million stars photographed by SkyMapper in its first year.
“This is the first time we’ve unambiguously been able to say we’ve got material from the first generation of stars,” Keller said. “We’re now going to be able to put that piece of the jigsaw puzzle in its right place.”
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.
Keller said it was previously thought primordial stars died in extremely violent explosions that polluted huge volumes of space with iron. But the ancient star shows signs of pollution with lighter elements such as carbon and magnesium – with no sign of iron. “What that means is we had a long-held theory that the first stars to form would be extremely massive because they are formed out of pure hydrogen and helium,” he said.
“A star is like an onion – it has all these layers and the heaviest material like iron is right down in the core. The only thing to come out of it was the carbon and a little bit of
magnesium from that supernova and that’s what we’re seeing today in the star that we’ve discovered.”
The discovery was published in the latest edition of the journal Nature.
- 1Faster internet speeds for Europe from Microsoft and Facebook
- 2Third night of riots rock Barcelona’s Gràcia district
- 3Leaders ‘influenced Putin’ over Savchenko release, say Ukraine pilot’s lawyers
- 4In the EU ‘one in three deaths of under-75s is avoidable,’ says Eurostat
- 5Germany: #Cutesolidarity response to Kinder chocolate controversy
- 1The nuclear waste site at the heart of Canada’s wildfires
- 2Turkey warns EU migrant deal could collapse if visa-waiver isn’t speeded up
- 3Eurozone ministers agree “breakthrough” deal with Greece
- 4More fuel frustration as French pickets refuse to back down
- 5Ukrainian pilot Savchenko back in Kyiv after 2 years in Russian jail
- 1EgyptAir crash: airline says Flight MS804 wreckage found
- 2The nuclear waste site at the heart of Canada’s wildfires
- 3Venezuela economy fractured with shortages of essentials across the country
- 4Crimean Tatars look for Eurovision boost on day of national tragedy
- 5Emergency response: inside Ecuador’s disaster zones
With defeat in sight, angry Sanders keeps rankling Clinton
US nuclear arsenal controlled on 1970s floppy disks
The UK’s legal high ban: raising more problems than solutions?
Australian town plagued by over 100,000 bats
Powerful Eye Contact Project Aims to Break Down Barriers With Refugees
Wires > News
- 00:06 CET Vietnam restricted access to Facebook during Obama visit -…
- 23:33 CET Britain plans to send warship to fight smuggling of people, arms…
- 23:19 CET Guinea Bissau president names Baciro Dja as prime minister
- 22:03 CET U.N. envoy tells Security Council no Syria talks for 2-3 weeks
- 21:38 CET U.N. panel rejects press freedom watchdog accreditation request
- 21:37 CET Chile’s students clash with police as protests intensify
- 20:56 CET Protester, police officer killed in Congo election protest – U.N.
- 20:26 CET Italy says migrant boat capsized, second in two days