Earendel, a star that twinkled 12.9 billion years ago, only 900 million years after the Big Bang, was discovered this week by a team operating the Hubble Space Telescope.
Using one of the world’s largest telescopes, another international team of astronomers claims to have discovered what appears to be the oldest and farthest gathering of starlight yet seen.
A reddish blob known as HD1 was releasing tremendous amounts of energy only 330 million years after the Big Bang. So far, no one has entered that dimension of time. A second glob, HD2, looks to be nearly as far away.
Scientists aren’t sure if the galaxy is a starburst galaxy with a massive, active supermassive black hole at its center or a quasar with a giant, active supermassive black hole at its core.
Astrophysicist Fabio Pacucci of Harvard & Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics adds, “answering questions regarding the nature of a source that far away can be tough.”
HD1 was discovered as part of a project to detect galaxies from the Big Bang, which was published in The Astrophysical Journal and is also available on arXiv.
The color red is created by a source of light moving away from us, which is known as redshift. As a result, the wavelength of light emitted by that source shifts towards the redder end of the electromagnetic spectrum, resulting in the term “redshifting.”
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As the universe expands, other galaxies appear to be redshifted; the larger the distance in space-time, the larger the redshift. This phenomenon can be used by astronomers to calculate how far light has traveled to reach us.
The HD1 light has a lot of potentials. In ultraviolet wavelengths, it’s extraordinarily bright, implying that the galaxy was undergoing a lot of activity. The figure was mind-boggling: more than 100 stars per year. That’s ten times more than an early Universe galaxy should have.
“The original population of stars in the Universe was more massive, brilliant, and hot than modern stars,” Paccuci explains. The road to the universe as we know it began around 100 million years after the Big Bang, when the primordial explosion’s hydrogen and helium began to condense into the earliest stars, known as Population 3 stars, according to astronomers. Populations 1 and 2, which have a lot of heavy elements, are still around today in galaxies.
Such hydrogen and helium-only stars have never been discovered, and they would have been significantly larger and brighter than the stars we see today.
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