News of the WeekAstronomy

Galaxy's Oldest Stars Shed Light on Big Bang

Science  04 Sep 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5382, pp. 1428-1429
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5382.1428b

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Cosmologists studying the element-forming processes in the big bang have been trying to look back through the clutter of more recently formed elements to learn the exact composition of that primordial star stuff. Now they have a rare sample of it: a collection of the very oldest stars in our own galaxy, some of which are more than 13 billion years old, formed just 1 or 2 billion years after the galaxy itself was born. At an astronomy meeting in Australia last month, researchers announced the culmination of a 20-year survey: the identification of a tribe of 1000 stellar Methuselahs that can be used as time capsules.