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Astron. Astrophys. 332, 215-223 (1998)

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The age of the most nearby star

A. Weiss and H. Schlattl

Max-Planck-Institut für Astrophysik, Karl-Schwarzschild-Str. 1, D-85748 Garching, Germany

Received 17 June 1997 / Accepted 21 November 1997


We address the question how accurately stellar ages can be determined by stellar evolution theory. We select the star with the best observational material available - our Sun. We determine the solar age by fitting solar evolution models to a number of observational quantities including several obtained from helioseismology, such as photospheric helium abundance or p-mode frequencies. Different cases with respect to the number of free parameters and that of the observables to be fitted are investigated. Age is one of the free parameters determined by the procedure. We find that the neglect of hydrogen-helium-diffusion leads to ages deviating by up to 100% from the true, meteoritic solar age. Our best models including diffusion yield ages by about 10% too high. The implication for general stellar age determination is that a higher accuracy than that can not be expected, even with the most up-to-date models. Our results also confirm that diffusion as treated presently in solar models is slightly too effective.

Key words: Sun: evolution – Sun: interior – stars: evolution – stars: interiors

Send offprint requests to: A. Weiss (weiss@mpa-garching.mpg.de)

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© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1998

Online publication: March 10, 1998