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This Star in Our Galaxy is Almost as Old as the Entire Universe

18 Jan 2017, 00:19 UTC
This Star in Our Galaxy is Almost as Old as the Entire Universe
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HD 140283 is a subgiant star located about 200 light-years away in the constellation Libra, and is the oldest known star. (Photo by Digitized Sky Survey/NASA/GSF/Sky Server)
Like anything else, stars have life spans. They are born (from collapsing clouds of interstellar dust), they go through a long main phase where they fuse various elements in their cores, and eventually they die when they run out of fuel. The finer details of these steps are based on what the star is made of, how massive it is, and what sort of company it keeps. Stars like our Sun have lifespans in the 9-10 billion year range—of which ours is near the middle—but other stars can have much shorter or longer lifespans, and as astronomers look out into the galaxy they can find stars at all different phases of their lives…of course, the longer a phase lasts, the more likely it is to find stars existing within it. We’ve found stars that are only a few thousand years old and we know of regions where stars are, right now, in the process of being born, but what is the oldest star we know of?
Actually, it’s not all that far away, ...

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