London, Jan 6 (ANI): Scientists in the UK and US have found the remnants of a star that exploded more than 13 billion years ago, which they believe was probably one of the very first stars to shine in the Universe.
All that is left of the star is the gas cloud it threw out into space when it blew itself apart, and it was only identified when the brilliant light coming from the surroundings of a distant black hole illuminated its contents.
The cloud's atoms occur in abundances that are quite unlike that found in the nearby cosmos today and are more what one would expect from stars that were originally made only of hydrogen and helium.
The research required the observations of two of the world's most powerful telescopes - the Keck facility in Hawaii and the Very Large Telescope in Chile.
The study is said to provide fresh insight on key events in the earliest stages of the Universe, in particular it offers some new details on the endings of the so-called "Dark Ages", the period before the first stars formed.
"The first stars have been a bit like the Holy Grail for astronomers," the BBC quoted Professor Max Pettini at Cambridge's Institute of Astronomy, UK, who led the research with PhD student Ryan Cooke, as saying.
"We think that they all lived very short and furious lives. They are all dead now, and there is no way for us even with the most powerful telescopes to observe them directly.
"So, what we have found is the remnants of one of these first stars to form in the Universe, and the elements carbon, oxygen and iron and pristine gas in a mix that has never been seen before," he added.
The findings have been published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. (ANI)