“Let others praise ancient times; I am glad I was born in these.” –Ovid

With all that we know of astronomy, with the hundreds of billions of galaxies and hundreds of billions of stars in each that we know are there, it might surprise you to learn that the stars — for the most part — don’t segregate themselves by age, but rather live together in well-mixed populations.

Image credit: European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope, of Planetary Nebula IC 1295.

Image credit: European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope, of Planetary Nebula IC 1295.

So how, then could we possibly hope to find the oldest stars that are out there? Believe it or not, we have more than just a simple clue, and we’ve been able to go farther back than most people ever imagined.

Image credit: star HD 140283, via Digitized Sky Survey (DSS), STScI/AURA, Palomar/Caltech, and UKSTU/AAO.

Image credit: star HD 140283, via Digitized Sky Survey (DSS), STScI/AURA, Palomar/Caltech, and UKSTU/AAO.

Find out what we know about the oldest stars in the Universe today!

Comments

  1. #1 Andrew Dodds
    October 30, 2014

    One thing that always concerned my about using heavy element abundances.. Given that the really big supernova-forming stars may only last 10 million years, there could be patches seeded by multiple supernovas – and presumably fairly rich in heavy elements as a consequence – that would have a high metallicity within a few hundred ma. But there could also be primordial gas clouds that have remained fairly ‘uncontaminated’ for billions of years and giving birth to low-metallicity stars now.. How do we sort that out?

  2. #2 eric
    October 30, 2014

    What is the Oldest Star in the Universe?

    Betty White? 😉

  3. #3 arch
    October 31, 2014

    Thought you might like these photos of the Aurora Borealis in Nova Scotia:

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/205837859569691/permalink/400674046752737/

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