A Student's Blog: A star that is older than Universe!

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Friday, 10 January 2014

A star that is older than Universe!

Science and technology has proliferated a lot in past years. Through careful observations and calculations, we can not only get details of anything that is present on our planet but way beyond that. Astrophysicists, with their amazing telescopes and heavenly space stations have calculated the age of almost all the stars present in the universe which is so freaking cool! But these calculations can sometimes go bizarre.

HD 140283 nicknamed Methuselah star, was first discovered in the year 2000 and after studying various factors like luminosity, composition, velocity and position was estimated to be 16 Billion years old. Wait WHAT?!! I remember reading somewhere that the estimated age of Universe is 13.7 Billion years. Is that even possible? Or is it that all the facts that we studied about big bang theory, age of universe and every experiment related to it was just one big error?

But hey don't worry, age of Universe is supposedly right. It has been said that the age of Methuselah star is conflicting because of collision of our galaxy with an adjacent galaxy some 12 Billion years ago which made this controversial star to bounce into our system. This star is very rare and has a completely different composition and velocity than the stars of our galaxy which caused the errors in the readings and calculations of its age. With careful observations recently its age has been brought down to 14 Billion years, which brings it closer to the age of universe itself. Researches are still going on and scientists are hopeful to provide solid answers within few years.

Methuselah star may not be older than the universe itself but being 'the oldest star' is still a very cool superlative. 

6 comments:

  1. It's not older than the universe itself: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2013ApJ...765L..12B

    "Within the errors, the age of HD 140283 does not conflict with the age of the Universe, 13.77 ± 0.06 Gyr, based on the microwave background and Hubble constant, but it must have formed soon after the big bang."

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    1. Read the same paper fully Thom, it has been given "Employing modern theoretical isochrones, which include effects of helium diffusion, revised nuclear reaction rates, and enhanced oxygen abundance, we use the precise distance to infer an age of 14.46 ± 0.31 Gyr".
      Everybody is sure that nothing can be older than universe itself and that's what i have explained in my end para. Thanks for your review anyways :)

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  2. Cool superlative indeed, but just a doubt. How would they verify the conflicting years here? Is there any way or do we just go by assumptions?>

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    1. Determining the age of an individual star is impossible. Scientists can calculate only the age of cluster of stars as a whole. Now since, Methuselah is not from our galaxy and hence its original cluster is different from its present cluster, this contradiction is arising. Computer models developed to determine the age of stars of one cluster cannot be used to determine the age of stars of another cluster. So the basic problem here is that this star is now in a completely different cluster and scientists needs to find various others factors such as its original cluster and the age at which it entered into our system to determine its actual age. All in all its a balance between Scientific facts and technical assumptions.

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