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14 Oct 2019

Featured Publication: A Record-Setting Ancient Star

An Australian-led team has used SkyMapper to find the star with the least amount of iron ever detected. "This incredibly anaemic star has iron levels 1.5 million times lower than that of the Sun," said lead author Dr. Thomas Nordlander from the Research School of Astronomy & Astrophysics at the Australian National University.

The miniscule amount of iron indicates that the star was born just one generation after the very first stars in the Galaxy. The first stars are expected to have been massive and short-lived, so it is unlikely that any have survived to the present day. As one of their direct descendants, the newly discovered star offers vital clues to the formation and death of that first generation.

The star, SMSS 1605-1443, is located 35,000 light years from Earth, on the other side of the Galaxy. 

"The lowest detected stellar Fe abundance: the halo star SMSS J160540.18−144323.1" by Nordlander et al. has been published by the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.