Far, far away on the opposite side of our galaxy, scientists have uncovered a star that has ancient origins. They say that it may provide evidence on how the first stars came into being after the Big Bang. The star in question is a red giant and is 35.000 light-years from Earth. It resides in the halo surrounding the galaxy. Astronomers are quite puzzled about one thing in particular that has been discovered during their observations. This is the star’s lack of iron.
The trace amount of heavy elements
The Skymapper Telescope in Australia was employed to find the star. Researchers conducted a spectroscopic analysis and discovered that the giant red star holds one part iron per 50 billion. Which is not a lot. The amount has been compared with a needle in a rather large haystack.
Lead study author comments on the find: “This incredibly anemic star, which likely formed just a few hundred million years after the Big Bang, has iron levels 1.5 million times lower than that of the Sun.”
The shallow iron deposits within the star have never been recorded so far during our astronomical observations. This is believed by scientists to be a unique case that could provide evidence on the formation of the current universe.
First stars in the known universe
This theory is supported by the belief that early stars that formed after that Big Bang has two widely abundant elements to form out of. These were hydrogen and helium, elements that were created by the Big Bang itself. The heavier elements that we see it stars and planets are believed to exist due to later supernovae, caused by exploding stars.
The first stars ever created have not been discovered at this current point in time and astronomers do not know if they still exist. It is believed that these would have been hundreds of times larger than the star in our solar system. The explosions these massive stars would have caused have been labeled hypernovae.
The newly discovered red giant star, designated SMSS J160540.18-144323.1, is believed to be a second or third-generation star. This is based on its size and the trace iron deposits found within the star. It may not provide a direct link to the Big Bang, but it is a stepping stone towards uncovering the answers to the questions that humankind is asking.