In a groundbreaking discovery, astronomers have identified the farthest known star in the universe named Earendel, using the Hubble Space Telescope. This distant star has been studied using the Near-infrared Camera (NIRCam) and NIRSpec spectrometer of the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), providing scientists with more detailed information about its characteristics.
Earendel is a massive B-type star and is currently in the Main Sequence phase of its evolution. As compared to our Sun, it is twice as hot and a million times more luminous. Scientists suspect that this remarkable star may have a companion, although confirming this hypothesis has proven challenging due to its close proximity and distance. However, the spectra of Earendel’s light suggest the presence of a companion, and further studies are being conducted to confirm this finding definitively.
One intriguing aspect of Earendel is that its light was emitted approximately 900 million years after the Big Bang and is magnified by a factor of 4,000 due to gravitational lensing. Astronomers are particularly interested to determine whether Earendel belongs to the first generations of stars and to analyze its chemical composition.
When observing Earendel’s host galaxy, astronomers have noticed a distinctive long crescent-shaped smear of light caused by gravitational lensing from a massive galaxy cluster called WHL0137-08. The recently released image from JWST has revealed even more details about the fascinating lensing effect, displaying a “ripple” where Earendel appears separately.
Earendel’s host galaxy is also home to various creches and star clusters with different ages, providing valuable insights into star formation in the early Universe. While the JWST has detected other distant stars using its infrared-sensitive instruments, Earendel reigns as the record-holder for the farthest star ever discovered.
Astronomers are optimistic that further advancements in space telescopes will allow them to explore even more distant celestial objects, potentially identifying the very first stars that illuminated the Universe as early as 100 million years after the Big Bang. Studying the lives and lifestyles of these early stars can offer valuable information about the formation of galaxies and the nascent stages of the Universe itself.
This remarkable discovery of Earendel and its host galaxy opens up a new chapter in our understanding of the cosmos, demonstrating the possibilities for future astronomical breakthroughs. The JWST, with its advanced technology and instruments, guarantees that researchers will continue to push the boundaries of our knowledge, unraveling the mysteries of the Universe, and uncovering its ancient origins. Stay tuned for more exciting revelations from Poh Diaries.
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