In 2000, scientists looked to date what they thought was the oldest star in the universe. They made observations via the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Hipparcos satellite and estimated that HD140283 — or Methuselah as it’s commonly known — was a staggering 16 billion years old.
Such a figure was rather baffling. After all, the age of the universe — determined from observations of the cosmic microwave background — is 13.8 billion years old, so how can a star be older than the universe?
“It was a serious discrepancy,” says astronomer Howard Bond of Pennsylvania State University. So with that in mind, Bond and his colleagues set out to discover the truth and test the accuracy of the figure. Their conclusions were just as mind-blowing.
Astronomers began observing Methuselah — named in reference to a biblical patriarch who is said to have died aged 969, making him the longest-lived of all the figures in the Bible — more than 100 years ago. The curious star is located some 190 light-years away from Earth in the constellation Libra and it rapidly journeys across the sky at 800,000 mph (1.3 million kilometers per hour).
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