Astronomers identify 12-billion-year-old white dwarf stars

Apr 11, 2012

A University of Oklahoma assistant professor and colleagues have identified two white dwarf stars considered the oldest and closest known to man. Astronomers identified these 11- to 12-billion-year-old white dwarf stars only 100 light years away from Earth. These stars are the closest known examples of the oldest stars in the Universe forming soon after the Big Bang, according to the OU researcher.

Mukremin Kilic, assistant professor of physics and astronomy in the OU College of Arts and Sciences and lead author on a recently published paper, announced the discovery. Kilic says, "A white dwarf is like a hot stove; once the stove is off, it cools slowly over time. By measuring how cool the stove is, we can tell how long it has been off. The two stars we identified have been cooling for billions of years."

Kilic explains that white dwarf stars are the burned out cores of stars similar to the Sun. In about 5 billion years, the Sun also will burn out and turn into a . It will lose its outer layers as it dies and turn into an incredibly the size of Earth.

Known as WD 0346+246 and SDSS J110217, 48+411315.4 (J1102), these stars are located in the constellations Taurus and Ursa Major, respectively. Kilic and colleagues obtained using NASA's to measure the temperature of the stars. And, over a three-year period, they measured J1102's distance by tracking its motion using the MDM Observatory's 2.4m telescope near Tucson, Arizona.

"Most stars stay almost perfectly fixed in the sky, but J1102 is moving at a speed of 600,000 miles per hour and is a little more than 100 from Earth," remarks co-author John Thorstensen of Dartmouth College. "We found its distance by measuring a tiny wiggle in its path caused by the Earth's motion—it's the size of a dime viewed from 80 miles away."

"Based on the optical and infrared observations of these stars and our analysis, these stars are about 3700 and 3800 degrees on the surface," said co-author Piotr Kowalski of Helmholtz Centre Potsdam in Germany. Kowalski modeled the atmospheric parameters of these stars. Based on these temperature measurements, Kilic and his colleagues were able to estimate the ages of the stars.

"It is like a crime scene investigation," added Kilic. "We measure the temperature of the dead body—in our case a dead star, then determine the time of the crime. These two white have been dead and cooling off almost for the entire history of the Universe."

Kilic was the lead author on the paper accepted for publication in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. Kilic's co-authors include John Thorstensen, Dartmouth College; Piotr Kowalski, Helmholtz Centre Potsdam, Germany; and Jeff Andrews, Columbia University.

Explore further: Image: Multicoloured view of supernova remnant

More information: For more information about Kilic and his research, visit his website at http://www.nhn.ou.edu/~kilic/.

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User comments : 18

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Husky
5 / 5 (1) Apr 11, 2012
i hope this age estimate both include the cooling as a dead body time their live time as a main sequence star witch for stars like our sun could be billions of years, adding that up would be older than the universe....
Lurker2358
1 / 5 (11) Apr 11, 2012
11- to 12-billion-year-old white dwarf stars only 100 light years away from Earth. These stars are the closest known examples of the oldest stars...


yeah, older than the mainstream theory of the age of the Milky Way.

i hope this age estimate both include the cooling as a dead body time their live time as a main sequence star witch for stars like our sun could be billions of years, adding that up would be older than the universe....


I kinda tried to explain this to people a few times, but got negative feedback.

The universe's age would need to be at least twice it's apparent radius in light years, or 27.4 billion years.

Ironically, if the Sun had been 100% hydrogen at it's creation, it would need exactly...27.4 billion years to burn it's fuel to it's present condition, if it burned at about the same rate the entire time.

But hey, who cares about math, right? the numbers just "happen" to be exactly the same.

Everything is about the same age...
Tuxford
1.4 / 5 (11) Apr 11, 2012
The community will just ignore this evidence too, as it is inconvenient to astronomer's careers. It's got to be another mistake.... Watch the self-appointed experts downgrade our comments. Certainty curtails insight.
StarGazer2011
1 / 5 (8) Apr 11, 2012
Hold on, how could they be in the Milky Way if spacetime is expanding, shouldnt they be Hubbling their asses away from us?
Jonseer
2.3 / 5 (3) Apr 12, 2012
yeah, older than the mainstream theory of the age of the Milky Way.



Being older than the Milky Way is not reason to doubt. The Milky Way was formed from other galaxies which would have been older than the Milky Way.

The PROBLEM is with the overall numbers as you point out regarding the age of the universe and the numbers indicating these stars predated the Universe.

EVEN MORE ODD is the fact that stars like our sun did not exist in the early days of the universe due to lack of the heavier elements necessary for a sun like ours to exist.

The heavier elements helps mitigate supposedly the growth of stars, and supposedly play a key role in cutting it short and allowing smaller stars like our sun to develop.

The age of this star would put it before the existence of the hydrogen giants that populated the early universe whose supernova explosions littered the cosmos with the heavier elements that made it possible for smaller suns to form?

CardacianNeverid
5 / 5 (8) Apr 12, 2012
I kinda tried to explain this to people a few times, but got negative feedback -LurkerTard

Yes, because you're an idiot. This fact is supported by statements like this one -

The universe's age would need to be at least twice it's apparent radius in light years, or 27.4 billion years -LurkerTard


But hey, who cares about math, right? -LurkerTard

Not you tard boy, which is why you say things like -

Everything is about the same age... -LurkerTard

CardacianNeverid
5 / 5 (8) Apr 12, 2012
The community will just ignore this evidence too -TuxTard

Which community tard? I see the crank community is already in full swing!

it is inconvenient to astronomer's careers -TuxTard

It's very beneficial to astronomers' careers to discover new objects and phenomena.

Certainty curtails insight -TuxTard

That is what conspiracy cranks like you do.
CardacianNeverid
5 / 5 (8) Apr 12, 2012
Hold on, how could they be in the Milky Way if spacetime is expanding, shouldnt they be Hubbling their asses away from us? -StarTard

No, their asses are held in check by gravity.
Shinichi D_
5 / 5 (9) Apr 12, 2012

The PROBLEM is with the overall numbers as you point out regarding the age of the universe and the numbers indicating these stars predated the Universe.


No. The estimated age of the universe is ~13.7 billion years. Star formation begun about 150(?)-400 million years after the BB. But population III hydrogen giants had the main sequence life expectation of about 3 million years. So the beginning of the star formation can be also considered the age of the first supernoae.

An intresting question is, what is the most massive, fastest burning star, that can leave behind a white dwarf. In short: what is the age of the oldest possibe white dwarf.
Another limit would be to try and find the WD with the smallest mass. That also would put kind of a limit on the age of the universe. What is the smallest type of star that had enough time to go trough its main sequence?
kevinrtrs
1 / 5 (11) Apr 12, 2012
If we allow for the unsubstantiated guess that the Milky Way crashed into some other galaxy and that these stars could be part of that one, then it raises an even bigger problem. This would mean that these stars were part of a galaxy that already existed in full maturity at T minus 12Ga. This is a problem for the assumed star and galaxy formation theory.

Similar problematic contradictions have already been OBSERVED in that mature galaxies with red stars are already up and running nicely at est. 500 million years after the supposed big bang - BEFORE galaxies are supposed to have formed. There's something seriously wrong with the Big Bang story and some astronomers[PhDs, no less] have already made comments to the effect that it might well be time to push the panic button.

Observation after observation is contradicting the theory and yet people still cling to it like dead flies to a paper fly-trap.
Benni
1.5 / 5 (8) Apr 12, 2012

There's something seriously wrong with the Big Bang story and some astronomers[PhDs, no less] have already made comments to the effect that it might well be time to push the panic button.

Observation after observation is contradicting the theory and yet people still cling to it like dead flies to a paper fly-trap.


The evidence astronomers are now able to "observe", the nearly "flat" (ie; only a very slight curvature) nature of the Universe, which implies the opposite of what of you seem to be suggesting.

As new imaging technology comes online and suddenly a lot more galaxies such as HUDF-JD2 come into clear view at much higher redshift, the age of the Universe will need to be changed to account for the newly discovered galaxies that were not expected to be there. The 13.7 Gyr for the age of the Universe will fall & don't be surprised if it becomes hundreds of billions or even trillions of years, but it is spherically shaped & finite whatever it is.
Eoprime
5 / 5 (7) Apr 12, 2012
"This would mean that these stars were part of a galaxy that already existed in full maturity"


beside the fact that you are an stupid troll, why should the galaxy be in "full maturity"?
It isn't like someone would hinder two underage Galaxys to merge before wedding, you could argue that its unethical for them to do that.... and here is your fish: <'(((>
TkClick
1 / 5 (6) Apr 12, 2012

The finding of well developed massive stars indeed poses a stress to Standard cosmological model, which considers, all matter appeared in finely divided state of lightweight elements at the single moment. The question is, if this stress is large enough at the case of two billion years white dwarf - IMO not, it's just indicia of steady state model, but still not evidence of it.
Ventilator
not rated yet Apr 12, 2012
The article on H3 indicates that despite our ability to get the numbers regarding the age of the universe wrong, there is indeed a process that occurs when stars go through their life cycle.

I find this area fascinating; we're star dust, and yet, if the scientists start pointing their telescopes at the interstellar dust clouds, that article on the formation of stellar dust should start to reveal some of the process behind why we are here.

There is no doubt in my mind that the math revealing the age of the universe can be wrong; after all, people made the math. We are not perfect, however, when we are right, we tend to leave that thing alone since this is viewed as perfection, in a sense.

We have no reason to assume perfection with regards to the age of the universe, as we as a whole lack the understanding to comprehend the process behind the stellar and galactic cycles.
RealScience
5 / 5 (8) Apr 12, 2012
My first though was also that at 11 to 12 billion old there would have been only a few billion years before, which is short for small stars to grow old and form white dwarves.

But rather than assuming that all of mainstream science is wrong, I assumed that my first thought was wrong, and thought some more.

Most starts are born in multiple-star systems, with many very tight pairs.
In such systems a bigger star can siphon gas from a smaller star, robbing the smaller star of fuel. Such a star will 'age' faster and become a white dwarf prematurely.
In such cases the larger star often goes supernova.
In doing so the larger start often shed enough mass to free the smaller star.
This matches with the high speed of these premature white dwarves.

And I would guess that there are other ways to age a star, too!

That doesn't mean that the mainstream is always right, but you should have a LOT of evidence before denouncing it as wrong.

CardacianNeverid
5 / 5 (7) Apr 13, 2012
The finding of well developed massive stars indeed poses a stress to Standard cosmological model, which considers, all matter appeared in finely divided state of lightweight elements at the single moment. The question is, if this stress is large enough at the case of two billion years white dwarf - IMO not, it's just indicia of steady state model, but still not evidence of it -TkClickTard

lol yet another, very obvious, Zephir clone! What a tard!

But rather than assuming that all of mainstream science is wrong, I assumed that my first thought was wrong, and thought some more...

That doesn't mean that the mainstream is always right, but you should have a LOT of evidence before denouncing it as wrong. -RealScience

Bravo! A well chosen handle. Are you listening Zephir?

Ethelred
4 / 5 (4) Apr 17, 2012
This matches with the high speed of these premature white dwarves.
Another possibility is that when the star blew up the explosion was asymetric. There are a number of neutron stars with high velocities.

Ethelred
Ethelred
4 / 5 (4) Apr 17, 2012
High TkClick/Zephir so here you are again doing what you lied about not doing. Pretending your someone other than Zephir.

First Name: Jenny

Last Name: Reefstone

Username: TkClick

Your real is not Jenny. Since you insisted on lying like that here is your name.

Milan Petrik

And can be seen on this site you own.
http://petrik.big...ovky.cz/

Ethelred

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