Pic of the Week: The Morning Star

Image (Credit): View of the Earendel star from the Hubble Space Telescope. (NASA)

This week’s image is the most distant star ever detected. It is from light that traveled 12.9 billion years to get to us, representing a star that existed about 1 billion years after the formation of the universe. It has been named Earendel, or “morning star” in Old English. You can learn more about this image from NASA’s Hubble site:

The find is a huge leap further back in time from the previous single-star record holder; detected by Hubble in 2018…The newly detected star is so far away that its light has taken 12.9 billion years to reach Earth, appearing to us as it did when the universe was only 7 percent of its current age, at redshift 6.2. The smallest objects previously seen at such a great distance are clusters of stars, embedded inside early galaxies…The research team estimates that Earendel is at least 50 times the mass of our Sun and millions of times as bright, rivaling the most massive stars known. But even such a brilliant, very high-mass star would be impossible to see at such a great distance without the aid of natural magnification by a huge galaxy cluster, WHL0137-08, sitting between us and Earendel. The mass of the galaxy cluster warps the fabric of space, creating a powerful natural magnifying glass that distorts and greatly amplifies the light from distant objects behind it…Astronomers expect that Earendel will remain highly magnified for years to come. It will be observed by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope. Webb’s high sensitivity to infrared light is needed to learn more about Earendel, because its light is stretched (redshifted) to longer infrared wavelengths due to the universe’s expansion.

Image (Credit): Detailed view pinpointing the Earendel star from the Hubble Space Telescope. (NASA)