Methuselah, a star older than the universe itself? – Life sciences


Nearly 200 light-years from Earth, which means around the corner in cosmic scales, is a unique object. It is a star four times brighter than our sun and 1.5 times larger.

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The first thing that caught the star’s attention, His name is HD140283It has already used practically all of its reserves of hydrogen and its content of elements heavier than helium is practically nothing; For example, it contains 250 times less iron than the sun.

Within the life stages of a star, it is in the so-called sub-stage, about to start its reactions to fuse helium after depleting hydrogen, and thus it continues to fuel its fusion reactions responsible for energy production. You need to shine.

Initial estimates revealed that HD140283 was 16 billion years old,
What was then purified to 14,300 million years ago; Anyway, it is a very old star.

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The mystery arises when we recall that the estimated age of the universe is about 13.8 billion years. How can there be a star before the universe itself, more than all the matter and energy we know?

Soon the strange name of the star Methuselah appeared, recalling the grandfather of Noah, who was 969 years old the oldest father of the Old Testament. The fact is that it became the oldest star ever discovered, and it caused numerous investigations to help understand the early history of the universe.

While it is true that the 800-million-year margin of error in estimating the age of the star Methuselah could reduce the discrepancy with the age of the universe to some extent, it still poses a challenge to the current cosmic model, especially given its weighty content. The elements, while diminutive, it is important to know that they come from a star ancestor.

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This means that, Although it is the oldest star we know, it was not one of the first stars to be born in the universe. It belongs to the second generation of stars formed from the remnants of supernova explosions, from which the heaviest elements come.

Although it now shines near us, within the Milky Way galaxy, our long-lived hero may have been born in a small galaxy that was attracted to our own, although reconstructing its history is still being studied, in addition to confirming the exact age . Universe.

Santiago Vargas
* PhD. On astrophysics
National University Astronomical Observatory

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