The farthest star ever detected
Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have spotted the most distant star ever seen: a blue supergiant located 9.3 billion light-years away. Dubbed Icarus, the star is at least 100 times farther away than any seen before, reports The Washington Post. Only exploding stars or entire galaxies would normally be visible at that distance. Astrophysicists made the discovery because of a phenomenon called “gravitational lensing,” which occurs when the gravity of a massive celestial object amplifies the light of an object behind it. In this case, a galaxy cluster moved between the Hubble and Icarus, magnifying the star’s light some 2,000 times. The effect was like “a natural telescope, much more powerful than anything we could build,” says study author Patrick Kelly, from the University of Minnesota. By now, Icarus has probably collapsed and no longer shines; astronomers are seeing the star as it was just 4.4 billion years after the Big Bang, which took place 13.8 billion years ago. The sighting could help scientists understand the evolution of stars in the early universe.