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Metal-Poor Star Reveals Evidence Of First Stars In Early Universe

First Posted: Jan 25, 2016 02:45 PM EST
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Astronomers have discovered one of the brightest ultra metal-poor stars that has ever been found. The team of researchers refer to this metal-poor star as '2MASS J18082002-5104378' which is a rare relic from the Milky Way, when it was formed billions of years ago. This latest study is enabling astronomers to study the origin of the first stars that came to life within our galaxy and the early universe.

The Brazilian-American research team used two of the European Southern Observatory's telescopes in Chile to carry out their observations. The star was detected using the ESO's New Technology Telescope. Continuing observations were made using the ESO's Very Large Telescope, which discovered that '2MASS J18082002-5104378,' unlike the sun, has an unusually low amount of metals, elements heavier than helium and hydrogen. These elements are so scarce, that the star is referred to as an ultra metal-poor star.

Metal poor stars were pervasive in the early universe, however these star are now rare in the Milky Way and in other galaxies. Metals are created during nuclear fusion within stars and they are dispersed in the interstellar medium when these stars become old and explode. Stars that are metal poor were most likely formed in an unpolluted environment that existed before the Big Bang.

The discovery of '2MASS J18082002-5104378' is enabling astronomers to discover new findings on the formation of the early universe.  

The findings of this study were published in Astronomy & Astrophysics.

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