American astronomer Carl Sagan once said the sun was an “ordinary, even a mediocre star”. There are over a hundred billion stars in the Milky Way, and although many are plane Janes, astronomers have spotted a few peculiarities.
Click start to play today’s Word Search and spot all the stars.
Here are three stars that shine a little brighter – even weirder – than the rest:
1. Przybylski’s Star
Also called HD 101065, this star is four times the mass of the sun. Located in the Centaurus constellation, Przybylski’s Star caught astronomers’ attention because it cooks up all kinds of interesting elements that are usually not found in stars, such as strontium, cerium and even uranium! While our sun doesn’t fuse anything heavier than nickel, Przybylski’s Star seems to fuse only heavier elements – the kind found in violent supernovae events.
2. Tabby’s Star
This star, officially named KIC 8462852, and located 1,200 light years away from us in the constellation Cygnus, is about 1.4 times the mass of the sun. While there’s nothing extraordinary or bizarre about Tabby’s Star itself, it was at the centre of a mystery a few years ago. The Kepler spacecraft, which looks for new planets out in space, sometimes finds it by spotting a telltale dip in a star’s light (about one per cent dip in light), because this indicates a planet passing in front of the star. Astronomers, however, found that a transiting object caused the light of Tabby’s Star to dip by as much as 20 per cent! A number of theories came up as to what the object could be. A swarm of comets? Space dust? Aliens? There’s still no definitive answer to the mystery.
3. Methuselah’s Star
Astronomers have theorised that the universe is about 13.8 billion years old. But HD 140283, a star that’s been informally dubbed Methuselah’s Star, appears to be 14.4 billion years old. Not only that, its chemical signatures point to the notion that it is a second-generation star, formed from gas and dust after the first generation of stars exploded. Astronomers estimated its age based on composition, brightness and distance (it’s about 190 light years away from us). At the very minimum, Methuselah’s Star is 13.2 billion years old, and with the margin of error, it’s one of the oldest stars known to us, if not the oldest ever.