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The Star Older Than the Universe?

13 Aug 2013, 09:20 UTC
The Star Older Than the Universe?
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Our Solar System is old. Our best estimates from radiometric dating of meteorites suggest the Sun and its planets (including Earth) were forming some 4.6 billion years ago. The Universe itself appears to be some 13.8 billion years old based on its observed rate of expansion and the properties of the Cosmic Microwave Background. That means, perhaps surprisingly, that the Earth has existed for a third of the lifetime the Universe has existed. That is an impressive fraction to be sure, but let us look at a star which is much, much older. A star so old, it seemed to have been born before the Universe itself!
This is a Digitized Sky Survey image of HD 140283, the oldest star with a well-determined age in our galaxy. HD 140283 is starting to show its age, it is approaching the red giant phase of its existence. The Anglo-Australian Observatory (AAO) UK Schmidt telescope photographed the star in blue light. (Image credit: Digitized Sky Survey (DSS), STScI/AURA, Palomar/Caltech, and UKSTU/AAO)

A seventh magnitude star in the constellation Libra, HD 140283 has always been seen as unusual. For more than a century astronomers have been ware of its fast motion across ...

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