“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.
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.
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?
What is the Oldest Star in the Universe?
Betty White? ;)
Thought you might like these photos of the Aurora Borealis in Nova Scotia: