“The older you get, the more you realize that the way you look is a reflection of how you treat yourself.” -Hope Davis

Age may be just a number, but in cosmic terms, there are some rules it’s pretty important to obey. It should be impossible to have a complex creature that’s older than the planets; a rocky planet that predates the stars; or a star that’s older than the Universe itself. With a figure of 13.8 billion years, we’ve arrived at an incredibly accurate estimate for the age of the Universe since the Big Bang from a slew of different sources, and so nothing should be older than that.

Looking back a variety of distances corresponds to a variety of times since the Big Bang. However, if the Big Bang occurred 13.8 billion years ago, then the oldest stars must be no older than that figure. Image credit: NASA, ESA, and A. Feild (STScI).

When we survey the stars in the Milky Way, however, we find not only many that are older than 12 billion years, but a few that may predate the galaxy itself, hailing from just 300 million years after the Big Bang. In one alarming find, though, there’s a particular star, HD 140283, that appears to be 14.5 billion years old. A star older than the Universe itself is impossible, of course, but there’s got to be a reason for this discrepancy.

This is a Digitized Sky Survey image of the oldest star with a well-determined age in our galaxy. The ageing star, catalogued as HD 140283, lies over 190 light-years away. The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope was used to narrow the measurement uncertainty on the star’s distance, and this helped to refine the calculation of a more precise age of 14.5 billion years (plus or minus 800 million years). Image credit: Digitized Sky Survey (DSS), STScI/AURA, Palomar/Caltech, and UKSTU/AAO.

Is the age of the star wrong? Our estimate for the age of the Universe? Or is something else afoot? Regardless, there’s more to learn, and a compelling cosmic puzzle to investigate here.

Comments

  1. #1 Carl
    USA
    September 7, 2017

    Two words: stellar progeria.

  2. #2 Omega Centauri
    September 7, 2017

    My first thoughts: What if the star originally had a brown dwarf companion, and was a bit lower in mass early on then would
    appear to make sense today? So say after a few billion years, it merged with its brown dwarf gaining a few percent of mass.

  3. #3 Gerald Lane Summers
    Temecula
    September 8, 2017

    A brilliant observation.

  4. #4 mehrdad
    September 9, 2017

    If merging caused that star to be older than The universe therefore we must find many of them inside our galaxy if we search in our galaxy accurately

  5. #5 Wardell
    September 11, 2017

    The age of the Universe is 15.844 Billion years. The proper
    Value if Hubble’s Constant H= 62km/s/Mpc.
    The Universe is 150GPm radius and Age =R/c!
    Age is 150GPm/c= 500MGseconds=15.854Gyears.

    The mass=2.025E53 kg and density=60E-27kg/m^3.

    It is very likely to find structures older than 13.8 Gyears.
    The Cosmological Theory is incorrect and misinterpret data especially “redshift.”

    The Universe is Stationary.
    W=[c,V][ ,P]=[-vp,cP]=[-mGM/r,cP]
    0=[d\dr,Del]W=[vp/r- cp/r, cdP/dr – Del vp]
    0=XW Stationary @ v=c
    *cP is the so called Dark Energy!

    The Universe is a Quaternion Space!