When it comes to orbital observatories, the Hubble Space Telescope is a grandfather, but it continues to make spectacular discoveries. The most recent discovery is the discovery of a solitary star or a stellar system whose light originates only 900 million years after the Big Bang. That’s the farthest of these sightings, according to the journal Nature, and it necessitates the odd phenomena of gravitational lensing. The unusual gravity of a foreground galaxy cluster has distorted the light from the galaxy that hosts the star. The galaxy is known as the “Sunrise Arc” because it appears as a thin strip of light.
The “Sunrise Arc” has been discovered to contain a single star, or maybe a binary system, that can be separated from the rest of the galaxy. The star’s light is magnified by a factor of thousands due to the galaxy’s warping. The enlarged light remained constant for 3.5 years, indicating that this isn’t a one-time occurrence. The team has given the star the name “Earendel,” which comes from the Old English poem Crist, which means “Morning Star” or “Rising Star.” Its origins are Proto-Germanic, and it is also the name given by Tolkien to the half-elven mariner who transported the light of one of the Silmaril across the sky. Earendel is thought to be 50 times the mass of the Sun.
Lead author Brian Welch told IFLScience, “It’s the most distant star that has been identified thus far, which is pretty thrilling just for the superlative of it.” “It’s also inside the first billion years of the Universe, so it’s at a time when we know galaxies appear different and expect stars to look different as well.” The Universe had only been creating stars for a few hundred million years at the time of this galaxy’s formation. While a generation of stars had already come and gone by that time, the heavy elements that build things like planets (and humanity) had not yet spread out.
The stars that are developing and blazing at this moment offer a window into the past, which is still a mystery. So Earendel is a fantastic discovery. Welch told IFLScience, “It’s a really fascinating way to obtain a deep examination of this one individual star at a time when things seem considerably different than they do today in the Universe.”
The Hubble observations are indeed unprecedented, but there are substantial uncertainties. Fortunately, NASA’s brand-new observatory, JWST, is ready to expand the observations. On JWST, Welch and his team have already set aside time to follow up on the first cycle of observations. The team anticipates further detailed photos as well as the star’s light spectrum. It may not provide them the most complete picture of the star’s makeup, but scientists hope it will help them better constrain Earendel’s mass and temperature.