Astronomers recently came across an ancient star that’s almost 14 billion years old. They referred to it as a time machine because it contained the remains of other ancient stars that were created shortly after the universe was formed.

According to Dr. Thomas Nordlander, an astronomer from the Australian National University, he and his colleagues discovered the star nestled in the Milky Way galaxy and located about 35,000 light-years from Earth.

The star, which has been named SMSS J160540.18-144323.1, contained traces of other older stars. According to the astronomers, these stars, which are most likely the parents or ancestors of the newly-discovered star, died following a massive supernova.

Due to the traces of the dead stars found inside SMSS J160540.18-144323.1, they described it as a time machine.

“We’ve found a time machine that takes us back to the universe’s earliest stars,” Nordlander said in a statement. “The pattern of elements we found in the star in our galaxy reveals traces of its ancestor. That long-dead star exploded as a supernova – a fairly feeble one at that too.”

Compared to other stellar objects, Nordlander noted that the star he and his team found had the lowest iron levels. The astronomers said that this strongly indicates that the star was formed one generation after the first batch of the stars in the universe was born.

“This incredibly anemic star, which likely formed just a few hundred million years after the Big Bang, has iron levels 1.5 million times lower than that of the Sun,” Nordlander explained.

“In this star, just one atom in every 50 billion is iron – that’s like one drop of water in an Olympic swimming pool,” he added.

For the researchers, the findings of their study strongly suggest the possibility of studying ancient or dead stars through their children. Hopefully, they’ll be able to find more “time machine” stars in order to gain a deeper understanding of the various stellar objects in the universe.

The findings of Nordlander and his team of astronomers were presented in a new study published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters.

Supernova remnant Supernova remnants are the debris from exploded stars. G292.0+1.8 is a rare type of supernova remnant observed to contain large amounts of oxygen. Because they are one of the primary sources of the heavy elements (that is, everything other than hydrogen and helium) necessary to form planets and people, these oxygen-rich supernova remnants are important to study. The X-ray image of G292+1.8 from Chandra shows a rapidly expanding, intricately structured field left behind by the shattered star. The image is colored red, green, teal and purple in X-rays ranging from the lowest to highest energy levels. Recently the first detection was made of iron debris from the exploded star. Authors constructed a map of this debris, along with that of silicon and sulphur, to understand more about the explosion. They found that these three elements are mainly located in the upper right of the remnant. This is in the opposite direction from the neutron star that was formed in the explosion, and was then kicked towards the lower left of the remnant. This suggests that the origin of this kick is gravitational and fluid forces from an asymmetric explosion. If more than half of the star’s debris is ejected in one direction, then the neutron star is kicked in the other direction so that momentum is conserved. This finding argues against the idea that the copious amounts of neutrinos formed in the supernova explosion were emitted in a lop-sided direction, imparting a kick to the neutron star. Photo: NASA/CXC/SAO