Earendel Facts, The Farthest Single Star Detected by the Hubble Telescope

Scientists dubbed the star Earendel. The name is taken from an Old English syllable meaning the morning star” or “rising light”. Earendel, whose technical designation is WHL0137-LS, is at least 50 times the mass of the sun and millions of times brighter.

Reported from Space, Thursday (31/3/2022), this newly discovered star, detected by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, is very far away. Its light takes 12.9 billion years to reach Earth. This looks to us like it was when the universe was about 900 million years old.

To date, the most distant single star detected, discovered by Hubble in 2018, existed when the universe was about four billion years old, or 30 percent of its current age.

“These findings provide us with an opportunity to study stars in detail in the early universe,” lead study author Brian Welch, an astrophysicist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, told Space.com.

Usually, stars are brilliant Earendel impossible to see from Earth given the great distance between the two. Previously, the smallest visible objects at great distances were star clusters embedded within early galaxies.

How did scientists find Earendel?

Scientists detected Earendel with the help of a large galaxy cluster, WHL0137-08, which lies between Earth and the newly discovered star. The gravitational pull of these enormous galaxy clusters bends the fabric of space and time, producing an extremely powerful natural magnifying glass that amplifies light from objects far behind the galaxy, such as Earendel.

This gravitational lens has distorted light from the galaxy that hosts Earendel into a long crescent moon that the researchers have dubbed the Rising Sun’s Bow. The rare light where Earendel aligns with WHL0137-08 means that the star appears directly on, or very close to, the curve in space-time that gives it maximum brightness, causing Earendel to stand out from the general light of its native galaxy.

This effect is analogous to the rippling surface of a swimming pool creating a pattern of bright light at the bottom of the pool on a sunny day – the ripples on the surface act as a lens and focus sunlight to maximum brightness on the pool floor.

Welch stressed that this is not the most distant object scientists have ever found. “Hubble has observed galaxies at greater distances,” he explained.

“However, we see the light from millions of stars they are all mixed into one. This is the furthest object where we can identify the light from a single star,” he said.

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