Science & Tech

Earendel: The Most Distant Star Found

The Hubble Space Telescope’s amazing discovery of the star Earendel in 2022 has been enhanced further by the James Webb Space Telescope.

About Earendel

  • Earendel is the most distant star ever discovered, discovered inside the first billion years of the big bang.
  • It’s a huge B-type star that’s more than twice as hot as the Sun and a million times brighter.
  • The star is part of the Sunrise Arc galaxy, which can be seen due to gravitational lensing.
  • Gravitational lensing is a natural phenomena in which the mass of a big object bends and magnifies light from another object in the background.
  • WHL0137-08, a huge galaxy cluster, acts as a “magnifying glass,” allowing telescopes to observe Earendel even though it is far away.

How was it discovered?

  • The James Webb Space Telescope used its Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) to expand on Hubble’s observations of Earendel.
  • Characteristics of the Star: According to NIRCam data, Earendel is a giant B-type star with more than twice the heat of our Sun and a million times the brightness.
  • A distance of 9 billion light-years: Earendel, located around 12.9 billion light-years from Earth, provides insights into the cosmic history of the early cosmos.
  • Gravitational Lensing: To detect Earendel, both Webb and Hubble used gravitational lensing, a phenomena in which foreground galaxies amplify distant objects, with galaxy cluster WHL0137-08 functioning as a cosmic magnifying lens.

Glimpse into it’s Past

  • Earendel appears as a solitary point of light even on Webb’s high-resolution infrared picture due to its great distance.
  • Although Earendel remains a weak pinpoint, the data from the telescope reveals that we are observing the star as it appeared 1 billion years after the Big Bang.
  • Historical Perspective: This discovery challenges the limits of human understanding, as the previous farthest observed star was discovered roughly 4 billion years after the Big Bang.
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