In the first billion years of the Universe’s existence, a star has appeared that has become the most distant and brightest star ever discovered on Earth. The James Webb Space Telescope has sent our astronomers a stunning image of this star, which has been named Earendel. It is located in the Sunrise Arc galaxy and is twice as hot and a million times brighter than our Sun.
This unique image was made possible by the NIRCam instrument, a near-infrared camera. Analysis of the data revealed that Earendel is a massive B-type star. It was in the very early Universe, appearing within the first billion years after the Big Bang.
One of the key factors that allowed Earendel to be photographed is the gravitational lensing effect. The massive galaxy cluster WHL0137-08, located between Earth and Earendel, acted as a giant magnifying glass. This cluster distorts space, creating a magnifying effect and allowing astronomers to get detailed images of the most distant star.
In addition, the images allowed astronomers to suggest that Earendel may have companions. The observations indicate that one such neighbor may be a cooler star. This discovery provides new opportunities to study star formation and the evolution of the early Universe.
It is worth noting that Earendel far surpassed the previous record for the age of stars set by the Hubble Space Telescope. The previous record holder formed about four billion years after the Big Bang. However, another research team, also using data from the Webb telescope, recently identified a star formed three billion years after the Big Bang.
This discovery underscores the importance of space astronomy and the opportunities that the James Webb Space Telescope provides. It allows astronomers to explore the farthest reaches of the Universe and expand our knowledge of its origin and evolution.