An international team of researchers have detected the farthest star ever seen, 9 billion light years from Earth, according to a study published in the journal Nature Astronomy. Nicknamed Icarus, it is up to a million times brighter and about twice as hot as our sun.
Scientists announced Monday (April 2nd) to have detected the most distant star ever observed: a blue supergiant located 9.3 billion light-years from Earth. This discovery was made thanks to NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.
This star is up to a million times brighter and about twice as hot as our sun. It’s officially called MACS J1149 + 2223 Lensed Star-1, but scientists have dubbed it Icarus.
Located in a distant spiral galaxy, it is at least 100 times farther than the other stars previously observed, except for objects such as the huge supernova explosions that mark the death of certain stars. Older galaxies were spotted but their individual stars were indistinguishable.
“The part of the universe where you can see stars is very small, but this kind of quirk of nature allows us to see much larger volumes,” said astronomer Patrick Kelly of the University of Minnesota, lead author of the research published in the journal Nature Astronomy.
Because the light took so long to reach the Earth, watching this star is like going back in time when the universe was less than a third of its current age. The Big Bang that gave birth to the universe happened 13.8 billion years ago. “We will now be able to study in detail what the universe looked like – and especially how the stars evolved and what their nature is – almost to the early stages of the universe and the first generations of stars.”
In addition, the discovery of Icarus is also important for researchers who study dark matter because the latter’s interaction with normal matter has a pronounced effect on the pattern of magnified stars.
Indeed, from the pattern of stars magnified in this study, the scientific team, also made up of researchers from the University of Tokyo, could exclude the possibility that dark matter is mainly formed by a large number of black holes with masses dozens of times greater than the Sun.
Astronomers predicted that many more magnified stars will be discovered when the James Webb Telescope, owned by NASA, the European Space Agency and the Space Agency of Canada, becomes operational.