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Astronomers: Ancient Star 'Shouldn't Exist'

DAVID GREENE, host:

Even as physicists look for tiny clues to the universe on earth, astronomers look for giant clues in space. Recently, some have been questioning how stars formed when the universe began.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Using a giant telescope in Chile, an international team of scientists examined a faintly visible star on the outer edges of the Milky Way galaxy. The scientists studying it say that based on what we think we know about stars, this star should not exist.

GREENE: In the online edition of the journal Nature, they say the star lacks sufficient amounts of key elements. It should have more carbon and oxygen than it seems to possess.

INSKEEP: So, it should not become a star at all, but there it is. The findings have astronomers wondering if they need to revise their theories about the way that a star is born.

(Soundbite of music)

INSKEEP: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Corrected: September 5, 2011 at 10:00 PM MDT
An early version of this story incorrectly stated that the star being examined by scientists is billions of light-years away from Earth, suggesting it is at the edge of the universe. The star is much closer to Earth, at the edge of the Milky Way galaxy.
Corrected: September 5, 2011 at 10:00 PM MDT
An early version of this story incorrectly stated that the star being examined by scientists is billions of light-years away from Earth, suggesting it is at the edge of the universe. The star is much closer to Earth, at the edge of the Milky Way galaxy.