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Astronomers think they have detected the most distant star ever

The most distant star ever detected?
Click for full image.

The uncertainty of science: Using the Hubble Space Telescope astronomers now think they have detected the most distant single star ever located, the light of which is estimated to have come from a time only less than a billion years after the Big Bang itself.

The star, nicknamed Earendel by astronomers, emitted its light within the universe’s first billion years. It’s a significant leap beyond Hubble’s previous distance record, in 2018, when it detected a star at around 4 billion years after the big bang. Hubble got a boost by looking through space warped by the mass of the huge galaxy cluster WHL0137-08, an effect called gravitational lensing. Earendel was aligned on or very near a ripple in the fabric of space created by the cluster’s mass, which magnified its light enough to be detected by Hubble.

The arrow in the image, cropped and reduced to post here, points to the theorized star. Note the arc that tiny dot lies along. This arc is the result of the gravitational lensing, and illustrates quite bluntly the large uncertainties of this discovery. We are not seeing the star itself, but the distorted light after it passed through the strong gravitational field of the cluster of galaxies. The scientists conclusion that this dot is thus a single star, must be view with great skepticism.

Nonetheless, the data is intriguing, and will certainly be one of the early targets of the James Webb Space Telescope, which could confirm or disprove this hypothesis.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

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"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • Alex Andrite

    Gravitational Lensing. Love it.
    Ripple in the Fabric of Space. Love it.
    Detecting a star at “a time only less than a billion years after the Big Bang itself.”
    Silly light.
    Albert we need you now more than ever.

    Come on Jim W. , we are awaiting your “cool images”.

  • wayne

    I’ll drop this in here…..

    Dave Butler
    “How Far Away Is It: The Cosmos”
    [Chapter 16]

  • Mike Puckett

    Eärendil was a mariner
    that tarried in Arvernien;
    he built a boat of timber felled
    in Nimbrethil to journey in;
    her sails he wove of silver fair,
    of silver were her lanterns made,
    her prow was fashioned like a swan,
    and light upon her banners laid.

    In panoply of ancient kings,
    in chainéd rings he armoured him;
    his shining shield was scored with runes
    to ward all wounds and harm from him;
    his bow was made of dragon-horn,
    his arrows shorn of ebony;
    of silver was his habergeon,
    his scabbard of chalcedony;
    his sword of steel was valiant,
    of adamant his helmet tall,
    an eagle-plume upon his crest,
    upon his breast an emerald.

    Beneath the Moon and under star
    he wandered far from northern strands,
    bewildered on enchanted ways
    beyond the days of mortal lands.
    From gnashing of the Narrow Ice
    where shadow lies on frozen hills,
    from nether heats and burning waste
    he turned in haste, and roving still
    on starless waters far astray
    at last he came to Night of Naught,
    and passed, and never sight he saw
    of shining shore nor light he sought.
    The winds of wrath came driving him,
    and blindly in the foam he fled
    from west to east and errandless,
    unheralded he homeward sped.

    There flying Elwing came to him,
    and flame was in the darkness lit;
    more bright than light of diamond
    the fire upon her carcanet.
    The Silmaril she bound on him
    and crowned him with the living light
    and dauntless then with burning brow
    he turned his prow; and in the night
    from Otherworld beyond the Sea
    there strong and free a storm arose,
    a wind of power in Tarmenel;
    by paths that seldom mortal goes
    his boat it bore with biting breath
    as might of death across the grey
    and long forsaken seas distressed;
    from east to west he passed away.

    Through Evernight he back was borne
    on black and roaring waves that ran
    o’er leagues unlit and foundered shores
    that drowned before the Days began,
    until he heard on strands of pearl
    where ends the world the music long,
    where ever-foaming billows roll
    the yellow gold and jewels wan.
    He saw the Mountain silent rise
    where twilight lies upon the knees
    of Valinor, and Eldamar
    beheld afar beyond the seas.
    A wanderer escaped from night
    to haven white he came at last,
    to Elvenhome the green and fair
    where keen the air, where pale as glass
    beneath the Hill of Ilmarin
    a-glimmer in a valley sheer
    the lamplit towers of Tirion
    are mirrored on the Shadowmere.

    He tarried there from errantry,
    and melodies they taught to him,
    and sages old him marvels told,
    and harps of gold they brought to him.
    They clothed him then in elven-white,
    and seven lights before him sent,
    as through the Calacirian
    to hidden land forlorn he went.
    He came unto the timeless halls
    where shining fall the countless years,
    and endless reigns the Elder King
    in Ilmarin on Mountain sheer;
    and words unheard were spoken then
    of folk of Men and Elven-kin,
    beyond the world were visions showed
    forbid to those that dwell therein.

    A ship then new they built for him
    of mithril and of elven-glass
    with shining prow; no shaven oar
    nor sail she bore on silver mast:
    the Silmaril as lantern light
    and banner bright with living flame
    to gleam thereon by Elbereth
    herself was set, who thither came
    and wings immortal made for him,
    and laid on him undying doom,
    to sail the shoreless skies and come
    behind the Sun and light of Moon.

    From Evereven’s lofty hills
    where softly silver fountains fall
    his wings him bore, a wandering light,
    beyond the mighty Mountain Wall.
    From World’s End there he turned away,
    and yearned again to find afar
    his home through shadows journeying,
    and burning as an island star
    on high above the mists he came,
    a distant flame before the Sun,
    a wonder ere the waking dawn
    where grey the Norland waters run.

    And over Middle-earth he passed
    and heard at last the weeping sore
    of women and of elven-maids
    in Elder Days, in years of yore.
    But on him mighty doom was laid,
    till Moon should fade, an orbéd star
    to pass, and tarry never more
    on Hither Shores where Mortals are;
    for ever still a herald on
    an errand that should never rest
    to bear his shining lamp afar,
    the Flammifer of Westernesse.

  • I am getting very confused about this sort of thing.

    Supposedly we exist in an expanding universe. That was what the “Big Bang” was supposed to have started.

    Yet we keep seeing light from stars, where the position of the star, “only a billion years after The Big Bang” is billions of light years away from where the Big Bang happened.

    That start isn’t in that position NOW. It WAS in that position. ( if the Big Bang happened 13.8 billion years ago), 12.8 Billion Years ago.
    So how long will a star actually live?, says that our Sun should have a life expectancy of 10 billion years.

    So there is a really good chance that Hubble caught picture of something that existed 12.8 billion years ago, and DIED 2 billion years ago in a place far far removed from where we see it today.

    What gets me is that it was WHERE it was, when the Universe was only 1 billion years old. So how fast was the Universe expanding in that first billion years? Or, are we looking at a point very very CLOSE to the epicenter of The Big Bang? In which case how did EARTH and our Sun get so far away.

    Now I am aware that the expansion of the Universe is not supposed to have anything to with anything physically “moving” anywhere. It is supposed to be a function of the volume of “Space Time” actually increasing. Still all this stuff about seeing stars further and further away is hugely confusing to me.

    What happens if we “see” a star whose distance can be established as further away than say 15 billion light years. That would upset the apple cart completely.

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