The oldest known star in the Universe discovered by a team led by astronomers at The Australian National University. The star formed shortly after the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago. Image © Space Telescope Science Institute/AAP
Lead researcher, Dr Stefan Keller of the ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, said:
“This is the first time that we’ve been able to unambiguously say that we’ve found the chemical fingerprint of a first star.
This is one of the first steps in understanding what those first stars were like. What this star has enabled us to do is record the fingerprint of those first stars.”
The ancient star is around 6,000 light years from Earth, which is relatively close in astronomical terms.
Team member Professor Mike Bessell, who worked with Keller on the research, said:
“The stars we are finding number one in a million. Finding such needles in a haystack is possible thanks to the ANU SkyMapper telescope that is unique in its ability to find stars with low iron from their colour.”
Dr Keller says:
“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.”