Hubble Space Telescope images 12 billion year old star-a new record! – ABC27

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Hubble Space Telescope (NASA)
by: David Tristan
Posted:
Updated:
Hubble Space Telescope (NASA)
by: David Tristan
Posted:
Updated:
(WHTM) — With all the recent excitement about the James Webb Telescope, it can be easy to forget the Hubble Space Telescope is still up there churning out scientific discoveries.
Until it comes up with something really spectacular.
On March 30th NASA announced that the Hubble had “established an extraordinary new benchmark.” It detected light from a star that existed a mere billion years after the universe came into existence in the big bang.
The light from this newfound took 12.9 billion years to reach Earth. It appears to us as it did when the universe was only 7% of its current age of 13.77 billion years. (You can round it up to 14 billion if you want.)
The previous record for the oldest star detected was also set by Hubble. In 2018 it spotted a star that existed when the universe was about four billion years old. That’s about 30 percent of its current age.
The discovery was made using data collected in Hubble’s RELICS (Reionization Lensing Cluster Survey) program, at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), in Baltimore.
The fact we are able to see the star as a star is something of a fluke. According to Brian Welch at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, the lead author of the paper announcing the discovery, “Normally at these distances, entire galaxies look like small smudges, with the light from millions of stars blending together.” They got the image of the single start because of a phenomenon called gravitational lensing, where massive objects, in this cast the galaxy cluster WHL0137-08 bends the fabric of space. In the right space at the right time or the right spacetime-it can focus light beams to magnify an image. Says Welch, “The galaxy hosting this star has been magnified and distorted by gravitational lensing into a long crescent that we named the Sunrise Arc.”
Astronomers were able to determine the star has a mass at least 50 times that of the Sun and is (or was-after all, this was 12+ billion years ago) millions of times brighter. The star has been named Earendel, which means “morning star” in Old English.
The paper describing the discovery appeared in the March 30 issue of Nature.
To see the NASA video about the discovery, click here.
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