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Australian astronomers discover oldest star in Universe

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Sydney, Feb 10 (EFE).- Australian astronomers have discovered the oldest known star in the Universe, a heavenly body formed shortly after the Big Bang some 13.6 billion years ago, media reports said Monday.

The star, known as SMSS J031300.36-670839.3, is in the Milky Way galaxy and some 6,000 light years from the Earth.

Scientists plan to use the star to study the chemical composition of the earliest heavenly bodies, opening the way for new approaches in examining the origins of the Universe.

Astronomers measure the amount of iron present in the light spectrum of a star to estimate its age, with higher readings of the mineral indicating a younger star, Australian National University scientist Stefan Keller, who led the team that discovered the star, said.

The odds of finding such an old star are "one in 60 million," the astronomer said.

"In the case of the star we have announced, the amount of iron present is a factor of at least 60 times less than any other star," Keller told the AAP news agency.

The star was discovered using the Australian National University's SkyMapper telescope at the Siding Spring Observatory in northeast Australia.

The discovery was confirmed using Chile's Magellan telescope and the findings appear in the latest edition of the journal Nature, Keller said.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/agencia-efe/140210/australian-astronomers-discover-oldest-star-universe