Farthest star ever seen in the universe detected

April 02, 2018

The most distant individual star has been observed 9 billion light years from Earth, reports a new study in Nature Astronomy.

Most searches of objects deep in space require long time observations using telescopes. Galaxies are favorable targets because they are a collection of about 10 billion stars. However, individual stars are difficult to spot because of their faint light.

An international team of researchers, lead by Patrick Kelly, and including University of Tokyo School of Science Assistant Professor and Kavli IPMU Associate Scientist Masamune Oguri, were able to discover this star, which they have named Icarus, because its brightness had been magnified by 2000 times by the gravity of a larger object in front of it.

While originally observing galaxy cluster MACS J1149+2223, 5 billion light years away, using the Hubble Space Telescope, the researchers noticed a flickering light in the background. Closer analysis revealed the light was not from a star exploding at the end of its life, but a blue star. In fact, the galaxy cluster's gravity had bent space-time to magnify the star's image, a phenomenon called gravitational lensing, where an object magnifies the light of objects directly behind it.

The discovery of Icarus is also important to researchers studying dark matter because its interaction with matter has a pronounced effect on the pattern of magnified stars. From the pattern of magnified stars in this study, the researchers were able to exclude the possibility that dark matter is made up mostly of a huge number of black holes with masses tens of times larger than the Sun.

It is expected many more magnified stars will be discovered when the upcoming James Webb Telescope becomes operational, and in doing so, they will be able to provide more insight into the properties of dark matter.
-end-


Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe

Related Dark Matter Articles from Brightsurf:

Dark matter from the depths of the universe
Cataclysmic astrophysical events such as black hole mergers could release energy in unexpected forms.

Seeing dark matter in a new light
A small team of astronomers have found a new way to 'see' the elusive dark matter haloes that surround galaxies, with a new technique 10 times more precise than the previous-best method.

Holding up a mirror to a dark matter discrepancy
The universe's funhouse mirrors are revealing a difference between how dark matter behaves in theory and how it appears to act in reality.

Zooming in on dark matter
Cosmologists have zoomed in on the smallest clumps of dark matter in a virtual universe - which could help us to find the real thing in space.

Looking for dark matter with the universe's coldest material
A study in PRL reports on how researchers at ICFO have built a spinor BEC comagnetometer, an instrument for studying the axion, a hypothetical particle that may explain the mystery of dark matter.

Looking for dark matter
Dark matter is thought to exist as 'clumps' of tiny particles that pass through the earth, temporarily perturbing some fundamental constants.

New technique looks for dark matter traces in dark places
A new study by scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, UC Berkeley, and the University of Michigan -- published today in the journal Science - concludes that a possible dark matter-related explanation for a mysterious light signature in space is largely ruled out.

Researchers look for dark matter close to home
Eighty-five percent of the universe is composed of dark matter, but we don't know what, exactly, it is.

Galaxy formation simulated without dark matter
For the first time, researchers from the universities of Bonn and Strasbourg have simulated the formation of galaxies in a universe without dark matter.

Taking the temperature of dark matter
Warm, cold, just right? Physicists at UC Davis are using gravitational lensing to take the temperature of dark matter, the mysterious substance that makes up about a quarter of our universe.

Read More: Dark Matter News and Dark Matter Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.