How old can be a star?

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2017-05-03 22:00:07

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How old can be a star?

If a clean moonless night to go out of town and look at the sky, you can see about three thousand shimmering points. From childhood we are taught that if it doesn't flicker, then it's a planet. If moving, then it's a satellite or a meteor. This tiny scattering of hiding in giant stars for many billions of kilometers from us, some of which are in tens and hundreds times more than our Sun. Our native gas balloon class G2V, too, is the universal community of light. Scientists estimate its age at 4.5 billion years. But the Solar system is relatively young. Where is hiding the most ancient stars?

First, let's learn how stars are born. It is known that empty space is actually not empty, for every two cubic centimeters is found on average in one molecule. First of them formed a sparse, cold cloud of interstellar gas. Gradually, under the action of gravitational instability, it shrinks and takes the shape of a ball. In the compression process, the energy of the gravitational field is converted into heat, and the temperature of the cloud increases. When it reaches the level of 15-20 million degrees, starts the fusion reaction and compression stops. Thus was born a star. Thermonuclear reactions in the core of the star occur millions or even billions of years, providing immediate surroundings an almost inexhaustible flow of energy.

During this inside a star, hydrogen nuclei fuse together forming helium. Then helium is fused into carbon, carbon into oxygen, oxygen into silicon and silicon into iron. The star becomes heavier and creates heavy elements. This continues until, until it again begins to shrink. Small lights — such as red dwarfs are massive enough to synthesize anything other than helium, but still can burn for trillions of years. The destiny of a star is determined by its mass, so at the end of life it turns into a white dwarf, a neutron star (pulsar) or black hole, depending on its "weight category".

The first stars appeared almost immediately after the Big Bang, which scientists believe started everything. But as the age of the Universe is only 13.7 billion years old, and some stars can exist for trillions of years, there should be plenty at any stage of growing up. It's not only to find the old star, but confirm that its maximum age corresponds to the age of the Universe. Astronomy is a complex science that requires perseverance and patience. In the milky Way galaxy over 100 billion stars, and the Universe more than 100 billion galaxies. Multiply these two numbers — and we don't even hundreds of years to cycle through all these lists. It is not surprising that estimates of age of the most ancient balls of gas are constantly changing.

One of the oldest star HD 140283 was discovered over a hundred years ago. If desired, it can be seen with binoculars or an Amateur telescope. Informally it is called "Methuselah" after the oldest person in the Bible who lived 969 years. Star, slightly more massive than the Sun located in the constellation of Libra at a distance of 190 light years from us and belongs to the second generation of stars with low metal content. "Methuselah" has appeared in a few hundred million years after the Big Bang, when the universe was still very, very raw. At first thought that he is 16 billion years old, but it's impossible, because then the egg is older than chicken, which he demolished. For modern assessment 2013 the age of this star is 13.3 billion years.

In the same constellation of Libra, but at a distance of 7500 light-years from us, is a red giant HE 1523-0901. As "Methuselah", is the star of the second generation low metallicity. Discovered in 2007, it quickly earned the title of the oldest in our galaxy, only half a billion years younger than the Universe. The mass of this red survivor is 0.8 solar.

In 2014 a team of astronomers at the Australian national University, exploring the starry sky in the southern hemisphere, said that he had found the oldest known stars. It is 6000 light years from us and, according to preliminary estimates, the age of the universe is 13.7 billion years. Of course, refinement of the analysis will take years, but the fact.

It is possible that one day we will be able to say that I found the oldest star, which appeared immediately after the Big Bang, as soon as it became possible, and remains to this day. Yet we can only sort through these billions of billions of dots that hide behind thousands and millions of light years away, with our best telescopes. Some of those stars died long ago, and only their light continues to inform us of their former existence. Others will live long after the Earth ceases to exist. Is there a reason for a minute to think about the fact that we are only one molecule in a drop of water in the waves of the ocean called the universe?

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