The Australian National University's 2.3-m telescope at Siding Spring Observatory in northwest New South Wales. Credit: ANU
Original Published Date: 
Friday, August 2, 2019

Full article issued by the ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions.

ARC-supported astronomers have found the most iron-poor star in the Galaxy, hinting at the nature of the first stars in the Universe, long hypothesised but assumed to have vanished.

The international research team, led by Dr Thomas Nordlander who is based at the ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions (ASTRO 3D), located the star on the other side of our Milky Way Galaxy about 35,000 light-years from Earth, using the university’s dedicated SkyMapper Telescope at the Siding Spring Observatory in NSW.

Co-researcher and ARC Laureate Fellow, Professor Martin Asplund, an ASTRO 3D chief investigator based at The Australian National University, said that the iron-poor star was a child of one of the first stars born after the big bang—stars which are unlikely to have survived to the present day. These first stars in the Universe probably consisted of only hydrogen and helium, along with traces of lithium, with heavy elements like iron only being forged in the heat and pressure of their cataclysmic demise as supernovae.

Photo credit: 

The Australian National University's 2.3-m telescope at Siding Spring Observatory in northwest New South Wales. Credit: ANU