SMSS J031300.36-670839.3 is possibly one of the oldest stars ever identified. We don't know it's age, writes Invader Xan at the Supernova Condensate blog. But, based on the colors of light it produces, there's reason to think it dates to a time that is damn near impossible to comprehend.
To find a star which is so devoid of metals, it must be old. Very old. In fact, the venerable SMSS J031300.36-670839.3 shows all the hallmarks of being one of the second generation of stars ever formed. The first ever stars formed quite soon after the Universe was born. They were composed of little more than hydrogen and helium. As a result, they were massive, fast burning, and rapidly died as supernovae. Known as “Population III” stars, these mysterious primordial stellar beasts have never actually been observed. However, we know they must have existed.
You can read more about the star at the Supernova Condensate blog. And be sure to check out the comments where there's an answer to the question, "If this star is so old, why isn't it dead yet?"
Maggie Koerth-Baker is the science editor at BoingBoing.net. She writes a monthly column for The New York Times Magazine and is the author of Before the Lights Go Out, a book about electricity, infrastructure, and the future of energy. You can find Maggie on Twitter and Facebook.