The James Webb Space Telescope has sighted the most distant known star in the universe, which was predicted by scientists using Webb’s predecessor, the Hubble Space Telescope, just a few months ago.
The star, named Eendelafter a character from JRR Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” prequel “The Silmarillion”, was discovered thanks to gravitational lens in a The Hubble Space Telescope deep field image. The star, whose light took 12.9 billion Light years reach Earthis so weak that it can be quite difficult to find it in the new James Webb Space Telescope image, which was posted to Twitter on Tuesday August 2 by a group of astronomers using the account JWST Cosmic Spring (opens in a new tab).
The original Hubble image provides guidance on where to look through the enlarged cutout. Essentially, Earendel, is the small whitish dot under a group of distant galaxies. By comparing the Hubble image with the one captured by Webb, you can find the elusive Earendel.
Gallery: The first photos from the James Webb Space Telescope
We are thrilled to share the first JWST image of Earendel, the most distant known star in our universe, photographed and magnified by a huge cluster of galaxies. It was observed on Saturday by the JWST 2282 program. pic.twitter.com/YoZZKRsdzfAugust 2, 2022
“We are thrilled to share the first JWST image of Earendel, the most distant known star in our universe, photographed and magnified by a huge cluster of galaxies,” the Cosmic Spring astronomers wrote in the tweet, noting that the sightings took place on Saturday (July 30).
The tweet refers to gravitational lensing, which is nature’s aid to astronomers. The effect takes advantage of the fact that extremely massive bodies, such as galaxy clusters or supermassives black holes, deflects light from objects behind them. When light passes by such a body, it behaves as if passing through the lens of a telescope, becoming magnified, though also distorted. The use of gravitational lenses therefore extends the reach of telescopes, such as Hubble and Webb, allowing them to see farther and in greater detail.
Webb was designed to see the first galaxies that appeared in the young universe in the first hundreds of millions of years following the Dark Ages after the big Bang. Astronomers, however, thought it would not be possible to see individuals stars of that first generation of suns that formed at that time. But gravitational lensing might actually allow them to see the interiors of these early star clusters in detail.
“JWST was designed to study early stars. Until recently, we assumed that meant star populations in early galaxies,” wrote astronomers from the Space Telescope Science Institute in Maryland, which operates Webb and Hubble. paper (opens in a new tab) discuss technique. “But in the past three years, three strong-lensed individual stars have been discovered. This offers new hope for directly observing individual stars at cosmological distances with JWST.”
Earendel, also known by its proper name WHL0137-LS, is located in the constellation of Cetusbut don’t expect to see it if you look at the night sky – even the gravitational lens isn’t that powerful.