Hubble Helps Uncover and Observe the Most Distant Star Yet (Study)

 

Astronomers have discovered the most distant star that has ever been seen by the Hubble space telescope. More distant galaxies have been found in the past, but this is the farthest star astronomers have been able to see that is entirely on its own.

 

A Short Description of the Most Distant Star Yet Seen

 

The star is referred to as Lensed Star 1, or LS1,  and was discovered accidentally when astronomers were attempting to collect images of a nearby supernova. It existed 4.4 billion years after the Big Bang— only about a third of the age of the Universe.

This means that LS1 is about a hundred times farther than the next single star that astronomers can study.  It is most likely a supergiant star, which means it has a high luminosity as well as a blue color. For perspective, these stars burn more than twice as hot as the Sun in our solar system.

Even though LS1 is much more luminous than the Sun, it would not be visible without the aid of something called “gravitational lensing.” Gravitational lensing is the use of gravity from galaxies between Earth and the object being studied to create a magnifying effect.

This phenomenon helped amplify the light coming from the most distant star by about 2000 times. In doing so,  it made it appear bright enough for the Hubble space telescope to pick up.

The age of the star makes it possible for astronomers to learn more about the history of massive stars. Gravitational lensing events also help give astronomers a new insight into what else might be populating this particular region of the galaxy.

The magnification implies that there might be more other massive objects, such as galaxies and possibly black holes, in between Earth and LS1. Discovering stars like LS1 not only helps astronomers learn about other massive stars but can also assist in uncovering and understanding information about the entire Universe.

A study paper with the research results was released in the journal Nature Astronomy. 

 

Image Source: Wikimedia

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