Hubble Has Imaged the Farthest Star Ever Seen
In a new study astronomers have used NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to set a new cosmic benchmark: detecting light from the farthest individual star ever seen.
Going back in time:
The researchers used Hubble to detect light from a star that existed just 900 million years after the birth of the universe in the Big Bang.
The discovery crushes the previous record established by Hubble in 2018 of a star that existed when the universe was around 4 billion years old.
The newly detected star is so far from Earth that its light has taken 12.9 billion years to reach here, appearing to Hubble as it did when the universe was only around 7% of its current age.
The researchers named the star Earendel, which means “morning star” in Old English.
How it happened:
The team estimates that Earendel is at least 50 times the mass of our Sun and millions of times brighter, rivaling the most massive stars known.
As bright and massive as Earendel is, the researchers say a star this far would be impossible to detect without the help of natural magnification by a huge galaxy cluster sitting between the Earth and Earendel.
The mass of the galaxy cluster warps the fabric of space and creates ripples that essentially act as a powerful magnifying glass for astronomers to look through.
The researchers likened the effect to ripples on the surface of a swimming pool creating bright lights at the bottom of the pool by acting as a lens and focusing sunlight to maximum brightness.