A team of astronomers may have identified the oldest star in the known universe. Located at approximately 1,600 light-years from Earth, the star may be at least 13 billion years old, a feature that makes it one of the oldest stars that humanity discovered.
Called 2MASS J18082002-5104378B and conveniently abbreviated as J1808-5104, the planet was discovered by a team of American researchers from the John Hopkins University. The star is a part of the first generation of stars that appeared after the Big Bang took place 13.7 billion years ago. The star is one of the oldest one in the universe and a paper that focuses on the details will be soon printed in a peer-reviewed journal.
The discovery may change the beliefs regarding the features and location of first generation stars. When they first stars appeared after the Big Bang, they were composed of hydrogen and helium, with a few traces of lithium. As these stars exploded upon becoming supernovas, they released large amounts of more complex elements, which contributed to the birth of younger stars. As the cycle continued, the metal content of stars continued to raise as time passed.
Researchers have discovered 30 metal-poor stars, which are usually as big as the Sun. J1808-5104 is surprising since it mass barely reaches 15% of the total mass of the Sun. Using three telescopes in order to observe it, astronomers also discovered that the star’s metal content is incredibly low.
Caffau’s star was previously known as the star that that contained the lowest amount of metal and it’s almost on par with the Sun when it comes to size. While large stars like the Sun can burn for up to 10 billion years low mass stars can burn for trillions of years. J18008-5104 is located in the rich zone of the galaxy where only big stars are usually found.
Further research aims to find more about the star and how the first stars started to form after the Big Bang.