Earendel – the most distant star ever observed

Last year, scientists found the farthest star ever – Earendal – at a record distance of 28 billion light-years. Now the James Webb telescope has been used to confirm the star’s existence.

And yes, Earendel does exist, and is therefore officially the farthest star ever found. In fact, astronomers finally know more about the gaseous field.

Eärendel existed in the “infancy” of our universe, when the universe was only seven percent of its current age. The light from the star is 12.9 billion years old. Now you might be thinking: How could the distance be 28 billion light years? This is because the star is farther away from us due to the expansion of the universe. In the roughly 13 billion years it has taken light to reach Earth, the universe has expanded so much that the star is now 28 billion light-years away.

Visual courtesy of Gravity Lens
Earendel is located in the so-called Sunrise Arc galaxy that has been distorted by gravitational lensing. Gravitational lenses are a type of cosmic magnifying lens, and they bend light from distant objects. The Sunrise Arc light was magnified 1,000 to 4,000 times by heavy cluster WHL0137-08 and shaped like a long crescent. As the light is amplified by the cosmic lens, the distant star can be seen.

Eerndale: Isn’t that…
…a character from Lord of the Rings? It’s true that Eärendil is the daughter of the King of Gondolin and we see her again in The Rings of Power series. Additionally, Earendel means “morning star” in Old English.

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Earendil may not be alone
Thanks to James Webb, we finally know more about Earendel. Thus, the star turns out to be a massive B-type star. The gas giant is more than twice as hot as our Sun and emits about a million times more light than our parent star. Plus, it looks like the star has another surprise in store. Eärendel may possess a second, fainter star. This is what astronomers call a companion. Most massive stars have one or more companions. Still, it’s great that James Webb can see traces of having a companion star. The star is not directly visible, but astronomers say the Earendal’s colors indicate a cool star.

Next step: true primordial stars
Scientists hope to find the first stars in the future. The first stars in the Universe – the so-called Population III stars – lived for a very short time: perhaps several hundred thousand years. They consisted only of hydrogen and helium. It has been important in the “evolution” of the universe. These stars rapidly convert light elements into heavier elements, such as oxygen, nitrogen, carbon, and iron. Without these elements we wouldn’t be there, because they are so important to the origin of life. Hopefully, astronomers will find more gravitational lenses and one day be able to track the conch star.

Winton Frazier

 "Amateur web lover. Incurable travel nerd. Beer evangelist. Thinker. Internet expert. Explorer. Gamer."

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