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Researchers discover one of the earliest stars in the universe

It’s one of the oldest stars ever discovered.

A team of MIT researchers have reportedly captured a stunning image of one of the oldest stars ever discovered, and it could have massive implications for our understanding of how the early universe evolved.

While astronomers have long thought early stars exploded with huge amounts of energy, littering the universe with the first heavy elements — such as carbon, iron, and oxygen — the team’s research seems to suggest early stars contained a level of iron whose upper limit is so low that it suggests that the star is a second-generation star.

The Chandra X-Ray Observatory captured the image of G292.0+1.8, a young, oxygen-rich supernova remnant with a pulsar at its center surrounded by outflowing material. The image shows a rapidly expanding shell of gas that is 36 light-years across and contains such elements as oxygen, neon, magnesium, silicon, and sulfur.

“One very central question for all of us is, ‘How did the first stars and galaxies get started?’” says co-author Anna Frebel, an assistant professor of physics and a member of MIT’s Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research. “This star had a lower-than-expected explosion energy, and also lower than today’s regular supernovae, which was really an unexpected finding.”

The discovery will likely lead to further research on how some of the universe’s oldest stars came to be. The findings, published this week in the journal Nature, offer a glimpse of the early universe and the stars that littered the cosmos.