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This is a Digitized Sky Survey image of HD 140283, the oldest star with a well-determined age in our galaxy.HD 140283 is starting to show its age, it is approaching the red giant phase of its existence.The Anglo-Australian Observatory (AAO) UK Schmidt telescope photographed the star in blue light.(Image credit: Digitized Sky Survey (DSS), STSc I/AURA, Palomar/Caltech, and UKSTU/AAO) A seventh magnitude star in the constellation Libra, HD 140283 has always been seen as unusual.For more than a century astronomers have been ware of its fast motion across the sky.It is speeding through our galactic neighbourhood at a staggering 800 000 miles per hour (1 280 000 km/h).This rapid motion shows us that the star is just passing through our region of space.Currently about 190 light years from the Sun, it is endlessly circling the Galactic Core in an orbit, vast in size and duration, which carries it down through the plane of our galaxy to the halo of ancient stars that encircle the Milky Way.
This suggests HD 140283 is an elderly star but when astronomers used their tested techniques to calculate its age they got a shocking result.
HD 140283 appeared to be 16 billion years old, more than two billion years older than the rest of the cosmos (measured to be 13.78 ± 0.037 billion years old)!
A star older than the Universe is an absurdity, enough to give cosmologists a few grey hairs, how could this be true?
The star’s age was assessed by two independent techniques.
Knowing a star’s intrinsic brightness is essential for estimating its age, to know its intrinsic brightness you must know its distance from Earth.