Scientists are excited about a newly discovered star that lives right in our own Milky Way galaxy. The reason for the excitement is that the star is tiny and is about 13.5 billion years old. The star is known as 2MASS J18082002–5104378 B, and one of its key features is a very low metal count.

Scientists say that in the early universe there were no metals. Metals that are abundant today are believed to have been created in the hearts of these early stars and then flung into the universe as these ancient stars died out. This means the younger the star is, the more metals it has inside. 2MASS J18082002–5104378 B has the lowest metal count of any star ever discovered at about 10% of the metallicity of Earth.

This discovery could mean that the Milky Way is much older than the 8-10 billion year estimate scientists use today. This newly discovered star is also very small at about 10% of the mass of the sun, which puts it on the lower limit for the ability to burn hydrogen. This discovery is at odds with notions of ancient stars. Many scientists believed that the first stars were massive and died out long ago.

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