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Record Broken: Hubble Spots Farthest Star Ever Seen

According to a research published in the journal Nature, the Hubble Space Telescope has captured an image of the furthest star ever observed. Thanks to a process called gravitational lensing, astronomers were able to identify the massive star, which almost definitely perished in a catastrophic explosion roughly 13 billion years ago.

 Located some 28 billion light-years away (thanks to the expanding universe), this 12.9-billion-year-old star, named Earendel, is between 50 and 500 times as massive as the Sun — and millions of times as bright.

According to astronomer Michelle Thaller of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, "It took this great cosmic happenstance." "Everything was perfectly aligned. A nearby galaxy cluster was really bending space into a natural telescope by lensing it.

According to study leader Brain Welch, a PhD student at Johns Hopkins University, such gravitational lenses are not always so potent. Typically, a lensed galaxy would be enlarged by a factor of a few to possibly 10. But in this case, the arrangement was ideal and a single star at the fringe of the lensed galaxy was magnified by a factor of thousands.

In this case,” said Welch, “we just got really lucky with the alignment.”


Earendel: Meet the morning star

The long-lost but recently discovered star is officially known as WHL0137-LS. However, the name "Earendel," an Old English term that means "dawn star" or "rising light," has been given to the historic beacon by the experts.

Icarus, a star that shined when the cosmos was about 9.5 billion years old, or 30% older than it is now, was seen by Hubble only a few years ago. Earendel, however, breaks the previous mark Icarus had set. Earendel existed approximately 12.9 billion years ago, when the universe was only 6 billion years older than it is today.

The universe was less than a billion years old when the light from Earendel was first released, according to co-author Victoria Strait, a postdoc at the Cosmic Dawn Center in Copenhagen, in a press statement. The proto-Milky Way was 4 billion light-years away at the time, but the cosmos has expanded throughout the nearly 13 billion years it took for the light to get to us, making it today a stunning 28 billion light-years away.


Earendel may have weighed as much as 500 solar masses and shone millions of times as luminous as the Sun. However, according to the experts, it was more likely between 50 and 100 solar masses.

Such stars don't survive for very long, according to Thaller. Therefore, we are observing light from a star that most likely only existed for a few million years. It blew up a very long time ago.

Thaller continued, "So, it's kind of like this amazing gift from the cosmos." "A opportunity to go through time. a chance to gain additional knowledge about our origins and the local environment billions of years ago.

As time goes on, Jennifer Wiseman, senior project scientist for the Hubble Space Telescope, expresses optimism that "as we study it more, [we'll] learn about how it was formed, what it's made of, and start understanding how the earliest stars in the universe contributed to their galaxies and to subsequent generations of stars like our own Sun."

According to a press release from Welch, "studying Earendel will be a window into an era of the universe that we are unfamiliar with, but that led to everything we do know. It's like we've been reading a really interesting book, but we started with the second chapter, and now we'll have a chance to see how it all got started." 

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