Most distant star ever seen found in Hubble Space Telescope image

Astronomers have used the Hubble Space Telescope to capture light from what appears to be the most distant single star ever seen.

Because light takes time to travel through space, scientists see this star as it appeared when its light began its journey 12.9 billion years ago — just 900 million years after the Big Bang that started the universe.

supplants the previous record holder

The newly discovered star supplants the previous record-holder for the most distant star ever observed. That one was spotted by Hubble in 2018, and its light had been traveling through space for 9 billion years.

Welch has nicknamed the star 'Earendel,' an Old English word that means 'morning star' or 'rising light.' It's at least 50 times the mass of the Sun.

He adds that astronomers should soon be able to learn what this early star is made of and how hot it is by using the James Webb Space Telescope

Astronomers hope that JWST— the most powerful ever built  will help them better understand how this star evolved at early moment in the universe's history.

An amazing discovery

The discovery was a bit of a lucky break.

The star just happened to be in a spot that was strongly affected by a kind of natural magnifying glass.

“This galaxy appears magnified and stretched into a long, thin crescent shape due to the gravitational lensing effect of a massive cluster of galaxies in the foreground,” said Brian Welch, a Johns Hopkins University astronomer and lead author of the Nature paper.

Scientists sometimes take advantage of this phenomenon to search for objects that would normally be too faint to see.

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