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Oldest Known Star In the Universe Discovered 141

Posted by Soulskill
from the thanks-geritol dept.
Zothecula writes "A team of astronomers at The Australian National University working on a five-year project to produce the first comprehensive digital survey of the southern sky has discovered the oldest known star in the Universe. The star dates back 13.7 billion years, only shortly after the Big Bang itself. It's also nearby (at least, from a cosmological perspective) — about 6,000 light-years away. The star is notable for the very small amount of iron it contains (abstract). The lead researcher, Stefan Keller, said, '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.'"
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Oldest Known Star In the Universe Discovered

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  • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @08:27PM (#46224263) Homepage
    According to TFA this star itself was likely born from the death of a genuinely primordial star (which would have started with almost nothing by hydrogen and helium). One of the upshots of this work is that some primordial stars may have produced much less iron than some models have suggested which could explain some discrepancies in the observed isotopic ratios in some old stars. According to the actual article (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature12990.html [nature.com] which may be behind a paywall) this star has an apparent visual magnitude of 14.7. This puts this star just in the limits of amateur observations. Charon has an apparent magnitude of around 15.5 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charon_(moon) [wikipedia.org] and that's been successfully imaged by amateurs (larger apparent magnitude means dimmer because astronomers are silly) http://www.universetoday.com/20351/charon-imaged-by-amateur-astronomers/ [universetoday.com] , so this star could be looked at by a dedicated amateur in the southern hemisphere.
  • Re:Which star? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Obijon70 (2755699) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @08:34PM (#46224325)
    Nah, Shirley Temple just passed away today.
  • Re:Knowledge (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RubberDogBone (851604) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @08:48PM (#46224469)

    There is only ONE book you need. The Holy Bible. King James translation.

    A translation, by definition, is not the same as the original, Words get changed, meanings change, stuff gets made up when the translator gets fed up and wants to go to lunch early.

    King James' translators were no better than any of them. Your faith isn't so much in God as you may think it is. Your faith is actually in those translators, that they did a correct and accurate job. Because you have no idea what the original works actually said, do you? Somebody has told you what it says. Perhaps many somebodies.

    When average people talk you about... weather, politics, the best dog food to buy, or whether Pizza Hut, Papa Johns, or Dominos has the best pizza, do you take what they say at face value and believe it? No, probably not. You know how people are full of crap, make stuff up, or are simply delusional. Being wacko is almost normal.

    But you trust your faith, the most important thing there is for many people, in the words translated by people hundreds of years ago. Whom you cannot talk to about pizza or anything else. You have no idea whether they were the best scholars ever, or merely humans who thought the same wacko things you find everywhere. I bet the latter because people are people, and most of them are wacko.

    Stuff like that scares the crap out of me. I know how much people make stuff up. Some more than others. There is no way I can base something like faith on a book like that. If you can, good for you.

    Well, of course you can and you will believe it. Because the alternative, that even a small part of what you believe might be wrong, is impossible to accept. It could not possibly be wrong, so it will never be wrong. You are safe.

  • by musmax (1029830) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @09:00PM (#46224557)
    I don't get it. If it so old it should be an ember by now, or does it still radiate ? If its only 6k ly from here then it still radiates right ? Also, if it is so old it should have 'expanded' away enormously.... or not. Its like finding a live dinosaur in your back yard.
  • by jfdavis668 (1414919) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @10:08PM (#46225053)
    Very small stars are like small cars, very fuel efficient. Large stars have a higher pressure in the core, and fusion runs faster. The core is so dense it does not convect. The amount of fuel in the core is all the star has to fuse. A red dwarf is fully convective. All the gas in the star drops down into the core, heats up, and raises back to the surface. The star can therefore fuse all the gas in the entire star, not just the gas in the core. So, it uses all its potential fuel, very conservatively. Therefore, it can last a long time.

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