Scientists at John Hopkins University have discovered a tiny star that, they claim, could have its origins close to the Big Bang.
According to the scientists, the star is about 13.5 billion years old, has extremely low metallicity - that is to say, a low-level of elements heavier than hydrogen or helium - and, it is believed, is almost entirely made up of materials spilled at the time of the Big Bang.
According to NASA, when the Universe started to inflate, the surrounding temperature was about 5.5 billion degrees Celsius
The Big Bang theory presents an explanation of how the universe came into existence. The theory suggests that the Universe, as we know it today, started with a massive explosion and has continued to expand over the next 13.8 billion years. While most astronomers accept the theory, some theoretical physicists have come up with some alternative explanations, such as an oscillating Universe and ‘eternal inflation'.
According to NASA, when the Universe started to inflate, the surrounding temperature was about 5.5 billion degrees Celsius. The Universe had fundamental particles, including protons, electrons and neutrons, which merged and decayed as the temperature started to drop.
Scientists believe the first stars created after the Big Bang would have been made up entirely of elements like helium, hydrogen and small amounts of lithium. Later, other elements heavier than helium were produced in the cores of the stars.
The tiny star was found after the discovery of the bigger, ‘primary' star of the two-star system
The latest discovery of the tiny star, named 2MASS J18082002-5104378 B, suggests that many more old stars (the very first stars created in the Universe following the Big Bang) with low mass and low metallicity probably exist in the universe.
This star has a mass just 14 per cent of the mass of the Sun. It resides in the Milky Way's ‘thin disk' and is part of a two-star system that circles around a common point.
The tiny star was found after the discovery of the bigger, ‘primary' star of the two-star system. The ‘primary' star was found by another team of astronomers that analyzed the optical spectrum of star's light to measure its composition. They found that the star had very low metallicity, and there was probably a black hole or a neutron star present in the star system.
When scientists from Johns Hopkins University studied this star system, they found that there was actually a little ‘secondary' star present in the system. The team then calculated the mass of the ‘secondary' star by studying the ‘wobble' in the primary star as the secondary star's gravity tugged at it.
Astronomers believe this star is most likely "one in 10 million" and it may help scientists gain a better understanding of the first generations of stars.
The detailed findings of the study are published in The Astrophysical Journal
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