James Webb Space Telescope sees farthest star ‘Earendel’ in new light; NASA shares photo

NASA's James Webb Telescope has taken a shot of Earendel, the farthest star known, using a space trick called gravitational lensing. This breakthrough helps us explore the early universe and its first stars.

| Updated on: Aug 10 2023, 20:57 IST
The most intense solar flare captured by NASA SDO
James Webb Space Telescope
1/5 According to  spaceweather.com, on August 5th, sunspot AR3386's eruption was captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). (Pixabay)
James Webb Space Telescope
2/5 The solar flare has been classified as X1.6-class which can be extremely dangerous to the space environment as well as the earth. Along with the solar flare, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory also discover a bright CME escaping from the blast side. (NASA)
James Webb Space Telescope
3/5 The intensity scale for solar flares is separated into A, B, C, M, and X classes, with values ranging from 1 to 9. An X-class flare denotes the maximum level of solar eruption intensity. (Unsplash)
James Webb Space Telescope
4/5 According to NASA, the solar flare can hit Earth today, August 8,  and could result in a minor G1-class geomagnetic storm. If two CMEs are hurled towards Earth, then it can generate a G2 or strong G3-class geomagnetic storm. (SDO/NASA)
James Webb Space Telescope
5/5 It is also possible for the radiation from the flare to affect people in aeroplanes and disrupt Earth's satellites.  (NASA)
James Webb Space Telescope
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NASA James Webb Space Telescope continues to capture awe-inspiring images. In the latest, it caught a glimpse of the most distant star known in the universe called Earendel. (NASA)

Following in the footsteps of the iconic Hubble Space Telescope, NASA's James Webb Space Telescope has looked at the farthest star ever detected called Earendel. This star was first glimpsed using the Hubble Space Telescope, and Webb's special camera called NIRCam has zoomed in on it now and revealed it to be a super-hot and super-bright B-type star, much hotter than our Sun.

A Star Hotter than the Sun

Earendel is in the Sunrise Arc galaxy, which is so far away that we can only see it because of a trick of nature and technology. This trick is called gravitational lensing. Webb was able to look at Earendel thanks to a huge group of galaxies called WHL0137-08 that bend space, making faraway things seem bigger.

Most of the galaxy looks like copies due to this bending, but Earendel appears as just one point of light. Scientists figured out that Earendel is extremely tiny, about 4,000 times smaller than what we could normally see. This makes it the most far-off star ever seen, born just a billion years after the Big Bang.

Gravitational Lensing

Earendel's size hints at a possible buddy star, which Webb could detect because it stretched the light to a color Hubble couldn't see.

Webb's fancy camera also showed us the Sunrise Arc galaxy in detail. It's the most magnified baby galaxy ever seen, with young and old stars as tiny dots. Earendel sits right in the middle of this galaxy, and it helped scientists learn about star clusters in our own Milky Way long ago.

Astronomers are still studying Earendel and the Sunrise Arc using Webb's special camera to learn more about the galaxy's makeup and how far away it is. Webb found a few other far stars using this technique, but none as distant as Earendel. These findings are like opening a new cosmic door for scientists, letting them explore the early universe and its baby stars. The team hopes this might lead to spotting the very first stars made from the universe's basic stuff: hydrogen and helium.

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First Published Date: 10 Aug, 18:29 IST