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The Greatest Cosmic Puzzle: Astronomers Find Stars That Appear Older Than The Universe

14 Sep 2017, 14:01 UTC
The Greatest Cosmic Puzzle: Astronomers Find Stars That Appear Older Than The Universe
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In the Andromeda galaxy, the oldest individual stars are found in the galaxy’s halo. However, globular clusters and random field stars may prove to contain the oldest stars of all in the entire Universe. Image credit: NASA, ESA and T.M. Brown (STScI).Something’s got to be wrong. But is it what we think about the star, the Universe, or something else?“The older you get, the more you realize that the way you look is a reflection of how you treat yourself.” -Hope DavisIf you understand how stars work, you can observe the physical properties of one of them and extrapolate its age, and know when it had to have been born. Stars undergo a lot of changes as they age: their radius, luminosity, and temperature all evolve as they burn through their fuel. But a star’s lifespan, in general, is dependent on only two properties that it’s born with: its mass and its metallicity, which is the amount of elements heavier than hydrogen and helium present within. The oldest stars we’ve found in the Universe are nearly pristine, where almost 100% of what makes them up is the hydrogen and helium left over from the Big Bang. They come in at ...

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