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Astronomers Find Traces of One of the First Stars

Astronomers have found the ghostly remains of one of the Universe’s first stars inside a rare, ancient star far, far away on the other side of our galaxy. ANU astronomer Dr. Thomas Nordlander said the parent of the star they discovered 35,000 light-years away in the Milky Way was about 10 times the mass of our Sun and, as a result, probably didn’t live very long.

Dr. Nordlander, from the ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions (ASTRO 3D) at the ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics (RSAA), said:

Dr. Nordlander and his colleagues compared the pattern of elements in the Milky Way star named SMSS J160540.18-144323.1 with predictions of what would be created when the first stars exploded.

Dr. Nordlander said the star they found in our galaxy had the lowest iron level ever measured out of any stellar discovery, indicating it was born just one generation after the Universe’s first stars.

The ANU-led team found the iron-deficient star using the ANU SkyMapper and 2.3-meter telescopes at Siding Spring Observatory in NSW. Dr. Nordlander discovered the star during his first-ever session working alone with a telescope.

Co-researcher Professor Martin Asplund, a chief investigator of ASTRO 3D at ANU, said it was unlikely that any true first stars have survived to the present day.

The research is published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters.

Provided by: The Australian National University [Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.]

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