Among the countless stars glittering in the vastness of space, some are so old they have experienced the dawn of the universe, and others are so young that not even the most powerful telescopes on Earth have been able to observe them. But is it possible to know which star is the youngest and which is the oldest?
The youngest star in our universe is difficult to pinpoint because stars are constantly being born, but there are a few candidates among the ones we know. In contrast, scientists have known about the oldest star on record — appropriately nicknamed Methuselah — for decades.
Stars are born deep inside enormous clouds of dust and gas known as nebulas. According to NASA, some clumps of gas in the nebula are weighed down by so much material that their own gravity forces them to collapse (since more mass means more gravity), and the intense gravitational pull in the center of a collapsing cloud causes gas — mostly hydrogen— to accrete into what becomes a protostar. These star embryos start to fuse hydrogen nuclei into helium and emit radiation in the process. A star cannot be called a star until it radiates energy, which is how it becomes so increedibly bright. Some faint stars are only just shining into life.
“Writer Fuel” is a series of cool real-world stories that might inspire your little writer heart. Check out our Writer Fuel page on the LimFic blog for more inspiration.