Friday, February 21, 2014

Nearby star is oldest in the universe

A new research announcement says:
The Oldest Star in the Known Universe

A team led by astronomers at The Australian National University has discovered the oldest known star in the Universe, which formed shortly after the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago.

The discovery has allowed astronomers for the first time to study the chemistry of the first stars, giving scientists a clearer idea of what the Universe was like in its infancy.

"This is the first time that we've been able to unambiguously say that we've found the chemical fingerprint of a first star," said lead researcher, Dr Stefan Keller of the ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics. ...

The ancient star is around 6,000 light years from Earth, which Dr Keller says is relatively close in astronomical terms. It is one of the 60 million stars photographed by SkyMapper in its first year.
I am surprised that the oldest star is so close. I would have guessed that the oldest known stars would be outside the Milky Way. After all:
In physical cosmology, the Copernican principle, named after Nicolaus Copernicus, states that the Earth is not in a central, specially favored position in the universe. ...

Michael Rowan-Robinson emphasizes the Copernican principle as the threshold test for modern thought, asserting that: "It is evident that in the post-Copernican era of human history, no well-informed and rational person can imagine that the Earth occupies a unique position in the universe."
So if we are in the oldest galaxy, then maybe we are in the center of the universe!

Perhaps the researchers only looked at stars in our galaxy. If so, they should have explained that.

5 comments:

  1. Around 6,000 light years away? Sounds just about right, since the universe is only 5774 years old according to the Bible.

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    1. Good point. I did not think of that.

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  2. It is unlikely that the oldest star in the universe is in our galaxy, but not unlikely that the oldest star we've found is here because it is our neighborhood. It is difficult to study individual stars in other galaxies other than those close by.

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  3. It may be that the star was formed elsewhere earlier and just ended up in our Galaxy, due to gravitational pull. It's likely the case also with that other very old star that is linked to in the same article.

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  4. "...which formed shortly after the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago."
    I am waiting with baited breath for the day they start discovering the universe did not begin 13.7 billion years ago, on a Tuesday at 7:00am. While I understand scientists do not want anything to do with un-scientific creationism stories, the very least they could do is stop pretending they know how and when the universe came about, or if it even did come about. Anthropic principals and multiverses are making science look more ridiculous than mythology at this point. What is going to happen to all those precious sheep skins hanging on the walls of academia when they start finding objects older than 13.7 billion years old? As it is, Big Bang speculation gets more absurd with each passing year as they try to squish ever larger observable stellar and galactic formations into an ever narrowing slice of calculated formation time in order to match up with what we can directly observe. We can't account for over ninety eight percent of the known universe's mass without fudging with magical missing substances, but science is qualified to say they know how and when the whole shebang started? Please.
    I might also bring in a tad of statistics. If a star truly this old was found this close to us in the Milky Way, it can hardly be rare, unless there is going to be some special significance assigned to where we just happen to be observing from.

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