The oldest star might be older than the Universe as we know it

While one team of scientists is looking to peer deeper into the center of the universe over 13 billion light years away for the beginning of everything, another group of researchers may have just discovered the oldest known object in our universe located "just" 190 light years away our solar system.

Howard Bond and a team of astronomers at Pennsylvania State University recently announced that their analysis of the star HD 140283 reveals that it could be as old as 13.9 billion years old. Considering that the Big Bang is theorized to have taken place some 13.7 billion years ago, this could make the star 200 million years older than the universe itself.

Huhwha??

Astronomets originally identified HD 140283 over a century ago and has always been considered as one of our oldest celestial bodies because it is made almost entirely of hydrogen and helium (two of the first elements created after the Big Bang). Howard and his team were able to finally put an age to this star thanks to 11 sets of observations recorded between 2003 and 2011 by the Hubble Space Telescope’s Fine Guidance Sensors.

The researchers used this data to track how HD 140283 has slowly dimmed as it continued to burn up its core supply of hydrogen. Using this information, the scientists calculated that the star could be 13.9 billion years old—give or take a 700 million years as the margin of error.

Taking this margin of error into account the star could be somewhere between 13.2 billion years old—making it line up with our current understanding of how the Universe formed—to 14.6 billion years old, which would completely flip the script on everything we think we know.

In either case, it’s clear the universe is not out of surprises just yet.

[Nature via Gizmodo / Photo: aquatic creature/Shutterstock]

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