UK and US scientists have found the remnants of a star that exploded more than 13 billion years ago. It would most probably have been one of the very first stars to shine in the Universe, they say. All that is left of this pioneer is the gas cloud it threw out into space when it blew itself apart. It was identified when its contents were illuminated by the brilliant light coming from the surroundings of a distant black hole.
"The first stars have been a bit like the Holy Grail for astronomers," said Professor Pettini, who led the research with PhD student Ryan Cooke. "We think that they all lived very short and furious lives. They are all dead now, and there is no way for us even with the most powerful telescopes to observe them directly. So, what we have found is the remnants of one of these first stars to form in the Universe, and the elements carbon, oxygen and iron and pristine gas in a mix that has never been seen before."