The galactic centre, as viewed through the SkyMapper telescope. Image: Chris Owen.

The galactic centre, as viewed through the SkyMapper telescope. Image: Chris Owen.

The oldest of all the stars

They may not look like much but these blurry flickers of light above are the oldest stars ever observed by humans.

The stars, found near the centre of the Milky Way Galaxy, are surprisingly pure but contain material from an even earlier star, which died in an enormous explosion called a hypernova.

ANU PhD student Louise Howes, lead author of the study published in Nature, says the stars are older than the Milky Way - more than 300 million years old.

"These pristine stars are among the oldest surviving stars in the Universe, and certainly the oldest stars we have ever seen," Howes says.

"The stars have surprisingly low levels of carbon, iron and other heavy elements, which suggests the first stars might not have exploded as normal supernovae.

"Perhaps they ended their lives as hypernovae - poorly understood explosions of probably rapidly rotating stars producing 10 times as much energy as normal supernovae."

View the video below to find out more about the oldest stars ever seen.