Monday, September 5, 2011
Mysterious Star Unlike Any Other In the Universe Discovered So Far
The Human race has admired and stared at the night sky since before we could even be considered Humans. It is easy to forget that most of what we know about the stars that we've enjoyed for ages we only learned in the past century. Keep that in mind while thinking about this new discovery.
Astronomers have discovered a star that, according to what we know so far, shouldn't exist. There are many ways that we determine the age of a star in the sky. The more hydrogen, helium and lithium stars have in them, the older they are, and newer stars contain more metals produced by older suns, blasted throughout space from novas. Using this info we can determine the age of every star we can see with our telescopes, except in the case of SDSS J102915+172927. It has a mass less than our sun, extremely low quantities of metals, and is probably more than 13 billion years old. According to our current models, it shouldn't be able form with that composition.
What's even weirder is that a star this old should contain mostly lithium. But its lithium levels are 50 times less than what they should be... and it contains an enormous amount of calcium instead. With a proportion of metals this low, it should be an extremely ancient star. And yet its composition doesn't match the theorized composition of the universe at its creation. So what happened to the lithium? That's the big question right now. Either something odd has happened to this star, or we need to revise our understanding of what the early universe was like. Researchers have identified some other stars which might also have metal deposits this low, and they plan to investigate further, to unravel what made these "stars that should not exist" do exactly that.
My personal opinion? Aliens have harvested all the lithium from the star for energy resources.