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Space & Astronomy

Hubble discovers most distant single star ever seen

By T.K. Randall
March 31, 2022 · Comment icon 26 comments

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, B Welch (JHU), D Coe (STScI), A Pagan (STScI)
NASA has announced its mystery reveal - the record-breaking detection of a star 12.9 billion light years away.
Last week the space agency hinted that it would be announcing a major discovery made by the Hubble Space Telescope that it promised could open up a whole new era of research.

Now that announcement has finally been made and it turns out that the world-famous telescope has detected the most distant single star ever seen at a staggering distance of 12.9 billion lights years.

Named WHL0137-LS (or "Earendel" meaning "morning star" or "rising star"), the star is 50 times the mass of the Sun and is also millions of times brighter.

The previous record for most distant star observed was only four billion light years away.
Normally observing a star as distant as Earendel would be impossible with today's telescopes, but in this case it was made possible thanks to the gravitational lensing effect of a large galaxy.

"This finding gives us an opportunity to study a star in detail in the early universe," lead study author Brian Welch from Johns Hopkins University told

"Hubble has observed galaxies at greater distances."

"However, we see the light from their millions of stars all blended together. This is the most distant object where we can identify light from an individual star."

It will be very interesting to see what the James Webb Space Telescope can discern once it turns its attentions towards Earendel in the near future.

Source: | Comments (26)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #17 Posted by lightly 2 years ago
I further suppose that the light from most new stars will  never  reach earth…because expansion will  outpace  it.?     …I gotta study “the Doppler effect”… it’s still hard for me to accept that the light ,or siren sound, actually changes?  or “shifts” …rather than  Relatively.  ..from our perspective or position.  
Comment icon #18 Posted by joc 2 years ago
Perhaps a silly question it possible to eventually actually see the theoretical Big Bang?
Comment icon #19 Posted by Occupational Hubris 2 years ago
Not really. For the first 100-300k years after the BB everything was still so densely packed that all matter was ionized and the universe was opaque. It wasn't until things cooled enough that light as we know it was able to start traveling around during the era of re-combination. We can see this as the cosmic background radiation.    
Comment icon #20 Posted by Ghost Ship 2 years ago
Will it be possible for Webb to see the very first stars?
Comment icon #21 Posted by lightly 2 years ago
Describing it as “ the Farthest star ever seen is confusing to me. (big surprise huh?:) ..  farthest from HERE? Yes.    …as if HERE is the center of the Universe.   ?     It isn’t.  Any point within the universe is the center ,and here.  !?!    Because, the universe doesn’t expand from a center point… it expands at every point, Everywhere!      And so, of course there are, and were,  and will be, trillions of     farther  undetected stars .
Comment icon #22 Posted by Occupational Hubris 2 years ago
There will always be things further than our light cones allows us to see. It is correct to say that it's the furthers we've seen, because it is. 
Comment icon #23 Posted by sanescotty 2 years ago
Thanks for your answers. I have another question which has nagged me for a long time.  If you travelled AWAY from the Earth at light speed, would the Earth never seem to get distant as you are matching the speed at which light travels, therefore keeping pace with the same ‘image’ , as it were.  Thnks in advance. 
Comment icon #24 Posted by lightly 2 years ago
  I googled it for you… and learned that the earth would be visible from about 9 billion miles away (as a speck of light) so….the speed of light being 186,000 miles per second..     if we divide 9 billion miles by 186,000 mps = about 484 seconds = 8+ minutes.        So..if you travelled AWAY from the earth ,at the speed of light, …it would fade from view in just over 8 minutes .            (someone should double check my ‘calculations’ however) 
Comment icon #25 Posted by Occupational Hubris 2 years ago
The speed of light (c) is a constant from your frame of reference. This is special relativity. The speed of light is always the speed of light to you, no matter how fast you are traveling. 
Comment icon #26 Posted by sanescotty 2 years ago
Thanks for your replies. The enormity of the visIble universe is certainly mind boggling. The distances are so vast that its quite unbelievable that we would ever be able to traverse such distances.  I suppose its quite weird to speculate that in say, 10 billion years time, some alien scientist on a planet 10 billion light years away looks at our sun twinkling away in his night sky and wonders if theres any life there not realising that our solar system doesnt even exist anymore. Makes me realise just how insignificant we really are.  

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