New image from NASA reveals the most distant star ever discovered

NASA unveiled the most distant star ever observed in a new image that could help scientists better understand our universe.

On Wednesday, the US space agency shared a photo of a star designated WHL0137-LS – the image is evidence of the most distant star discovery to date.

Scientists have nicknamed the star “Earendel,” which means “morning star” or “rising light” in Old English.

The star was captured by NASA’s Hubble Telescope, launched in 1990.

The star, 28 billion light-years away, is only 900 million years from the Big Bang, according to a new paper in the journal Nature.

The study also suggests that Earendel could be 50 to 500 times more massive than our Sun and a million times more luminous.

Despite its brightness, it was a full 12.8 billion years before the star’s light reached the Hubble Space Telescope.

Even more: Earendel is 8.2 billion years older than the sun and the earth.

“When the light we see from Earendel was emitted, the universe was less than a billion years old; just 6% of his current age,” said study co-author Victoria Strait, a postdoctoral fellow at the Cosmic Dawn Center in Copenhagen.

“It was then 4 billion light-years from the proto-Milky Way, but during the nearly 13 billion years it took for light to reach us, the universe has expanded so that it is now an incredible 28 billion light-years away.”

This observation of Earendel was made possible by “gravitational lensing”.

The technical term was coined by Albert Einstein and describes when closer objects act like a magnifying glass for distant objects.

“Gravity essentially distorts and magnifies the light from distant background galaxies,” CNN explained in a report.

“Typically, from these distances, entire galaxies look like little blobs where the light from millions of stars mixes together,” lead author Brian Welch, an astronomer at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, said in a statement.

“The galaxy this star is in has been magnified by gravitational lensing and distorted into a long crescent moon that we have dubbed the Sunrise Arc.”

Earendel was identified by gravitational lensing.
Earendel was identified by gravitational lensing.
NASA, ESA, Brian Welch (JHU), Dan Coe (STScI)

To confirm their findings, the team will use NASA’s recently launched James Webb Space Telescope to observe Earendel.

“With James Webb, we will be able to confirm that Earendel is in fact just a star, while also quantifying what type of star it is,” said study co-author Sune Toft, director of the Cosmic Dawn Center and Professor at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen.

“Webb will even allow us to measure its chemical composition. Potentially, Earendel could be the first known example of the earliest generation of stars in the universe.”

Experts say this discovery could shed light on the origins of the universe.

“When we look at the cosmos, we’re also looking back in time, so these extremely high-resolution observations allow us to understand the building blocks of some of the very first galaxies,” Strait said.

Earendel’s distance from Earth surpasses the previous record holder, a star nicknamed Icarus.

This star was observed when it appeared 9.4 billion years ago, which is 3.4 billion years younger than the new record holder.

This article originally appeared on The sun and is reproduced here with permission. New image from NASA reveals the most distant star ever discovered


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