NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope previously unveiled Earendel, the farthest-ever star, showcasing the universe’s earliest days. Now, Earendel’s brilliance comes to light through the James Webb Space Telescope, further illuminating this cosmic enigma. Birthed within the first billion years post the big bang, Earendel stands as a massive B-type star, its heat surpassing even our Sun, radiating a luminosity a million times more powerful.
Earendel’s astonishing revelation is aided by its alignment with a distant galaxy cluster, positioned between the star and our terrestrial view. The cluster’s gravity acts as a lens, magnifying the starlight, allowing Earendel’s glow to be discerned even at this vast distance, with an amplification factor of at least 4000.
Amongst the colors of Earendel’s light, astronomers have noted hints of a potential cooler companion star. This companion, if confirmed, could provide insights into the binary dynamics of this distant system.
The James Webb Space Telescope extends its gaze beyond Earendel, capturing intricate details of the host galaxy, the Sunrise Arc. This galaxy now holds the record as the most magnified galaxy in the universe’s first billion years. Within its expanse, the telescope reveals young star-forming regions alongside ancient star clusters, some as small as 10 light-years across.
While Earendel stands as the benchmark for distance, the Webb telescope has observed other far-flung stars. This technology offers the potential to glimpse into the very first generation of stars that ignited the cosmos.
You can learn more about Earendel here on NASA’s website here: https://go.nasa.gov/3OQh8Im.
Source: NASA, ESA, CSA, Dan Coe (STScI/AURA for ESA, JHU), Brian Welch (NASA-GSFC, UMD), and image processing by Zolt G. Levay.