“Star of the Big Bang”: a mysterious object that may be in our galaxy

“If we correctly understand, there may be stars with low mass, having a composition exclusive of the Big Bang,” says astrophysicist Kevin Schlaufman from Johns Hopkins University. “Although we did not find such an object in our galaxy, it can exist.” Recently it became knownthat astronomers have discovered one of the oldest stars in the Universe, whose body almost entirely consists of material ejected in the process of the Big Bang.

The discovery of this star by the age of nearly 13.5 billion years means that there may be other stars with low mass and a low content of metals, relics of the Big Bang — perhaps the first stars in the Universe were such.

The newly discovered star is quite unusual because unlike other stars with extremely low metal contents, this is included as part of the “thin disk” of the milky Way — our galaxy where our Sun. And since this star is so old, scientists believe that our galactic neighbors might be at least 3 billion is older than previously thought. The findings of scientists was published in The Astrophysical Journal.

The star — child of the Big Bang

“This star is arguably one of the 10 million,” said lead author, Laufman, associate Professor of physics and astronomy at Johns Hopkins University. “This tells us something very important about the first generations of stars.”

The first stars of the Universe after the Big Bang consisted entirely of such elements as hydrogen, helium and a little lithium. Then these stars produced the elements heavier than helium in their cores and imparted them to the universe, exploding in a supernova.

Next generation stars formed from clouds of material that is covered with these metals, and has included them in its membership. The metal content, or metallicity, the stars of the universe increased with the repetition of the cycle of birth and death of stars.

The extremely low metallicity of the newly discovered star indicates that in the cosmic family tree can be only one generation that separates us from the Big Bang. In fact, this new record-breaker among the stars with the lowest content of heavy metals in it them as much as it is with the planet mercury. For comparison, our Sun has passed through thousands of generations in the tree and has a heavy metal content equal to the content of fourteen of Jupiter.

Astronomers have discovered about 30 ancient “ultrametric metal” stars in the approximate mass of the Sun. Star, discovered by Laufman and his team, has a mass only 14% of solar.

This star is part of a system of two stars rotating around a common center. Astronomers have found that tiny, almost invisible secondary star after another group of astronomers has discovered a brighter “main” star. The team measured the composition of the main stars by studying the optical spectrum of its light in high resolution. The presence or absence of dark bands in the spectrum of a star can reveal the elements it contains, such as carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, iron, and everything else. In this case, the star had extremely low metallicity. Before that, astronomers have revealed the unusual behavior of this star system, which indicates the presence of a neutron star or a black hole. Laufman and his team denied this, but in the process discovered tiny companion to the bright star.

The existence of a small companion proved to be a great discovery. A team of Laufman was able to bring his weight, studying the slight “wiggle” of a star caused by the gravitational attraction of the younger stars.

Since the 1990-ies, scientists began to believe that at the earliest stages of the Universe could emerge only in massive star — and it was impossible to observe because they quickly burned their fuel and died.

But as astronomical simulations became more sophisticated, it became clear that in certain situations a star from that time period with a particularly low weight can still exist even after more than 13 billion years since the Big Bang. In contrast to massive stars, low-mass stars can live for a very long time. I believe that red dwarf stars can live for trillions of years.

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