The Hubble Space Telescope has detected the most distant star ever observed.

Called Earendel, this star is located at the record distance of 12.9 billion light-years from Earth.

Its mass would be at least equivalent to 50 times that of our Sun.

She is also millions of times brighter than him, according to scientists.

The star holding the previous record was also observed by Hubble in 2018, but it existed in a universe 4 billion years old, compared to only around 900 million years after the Big Bang for Earendel.

RECORD BROKEN: Hubble observed the farthest individual star ever seen!



This extraordinary new benchmark detected light from a star that existed within the first billion years after the universe's birth in the big bang.



Find out more: https://t.co/2ivkk1iqz3 pic.twitter.com/X7qcijwx24

— Hubble (@NASAHubble) March 30, 2022


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A discovery that promises others

The discovery was detailed this Wednesday in the scientific journal

Nature

.

"Initially, we almost did not believe it," said Brian Welch, lead author of the study, in a press release.

“[It] existed so long ago that it might not have been made of the same raw materials as the stars around us today.

»

Further study of Earendel, whose name means 'morning star' in Old English, 'will provide a window into the period of the Universe that we are unfamiliar with, but which led to all that we know today,” added the researcher.

Found through a gravitational lens

The star will therefore be a target of choice for James Webb, being calibrated in space and who will observe Earendel this year, said the European Space Agency (ESA), which operates the machine with NASA.

Unlike Hubble, which has only a small infrared capacity, James Webb only operates in these wavelengths, allowing it to go further back.

Until now, only groups of stars had been observed so far without being able to distinguish a star in particular.

Earendel had a cosmic help: a gravitational lens.

It is a cluster of galaxies located between us and the star and which acts as a magnifying glass amplifying the light of the object.

The ESA compares this effect to ripples on the surface of the water, which in good weather can create amplified light beams on the floor of a swimming pool.

This rare alignment should last for years to come, according to astronomers.

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