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Ancient star retains oddly youthful glow

06 september 2012, 17:10
0
©AFP
©AFP
Scientists using a high-powered telescope in Chile have discovered an ancient star that seems oddly impervious to aging, AFP reports.

The star is in a globular cluster dating back to the universe's distant past, but new images from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Chile show that one of the stars still has a considerable amount of lithium.

"Normally this element is gradually destroyed over the billions of years of a star's life, but this one star amongst thousands seems to have the secret of eternal youth," the ESO said in a statement Wednesday.

"It has either somehow managed to retain its original lithium, or it has found a way to enrich itself with freshly made lithium."

Heavier chemical elements are typically only found in newer stars, like the Sun, and are dispersed at the end of a star's life, when they form the building blocks of new generations of stellar bodies, the ESO said.

The new image came from the Wide Field Imager on the massive 2.2-metre telescope the ESO operates in the La Silla Observatory in Chile.

The ESO, a collaboration involving 15 mainly European countries, operates a number of high-powered telescopes in Chile, including the Very Large Telescope array (VLT) in Paranal, the world's most advanced telescope.

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