Across The Universe


Matthew Moskowitz, Journalist

So to begin this discussion, you ought to know how much a light year actually is. One light-year is equivalent to almost 6 trillion miles. Back in May of 2016, astronomers were able to look 9 billion light-years away to spot the farthest ever recorded star in our own universe – MACS J1149 (“Icarus”). But the news in this comes on how Nature Astronomy published that the researchers did so from combining NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope capabilities with gravitational lensing, which makes distant objects appear brighter than they may seem. The co-author of this article-Alex Filippenko-stated that this is the first time ever that we are able to see an individual normal star, not a supernova, that is 9 billion light years away.


Typically, astronomers aren’t able to identify specific stars that are more than 100 million light-years away. This comes from how gravitational lensing is something that relies on “good luck,” although it makes the stars easier to find and magnify. For context, the astronomers magnified the star 50 times over. Since May 2016 was so long ago, the researchers are trying to get a sharper image of Icarus. This image could hopefully magnify the star five times over than what it has already been. Personally, I think this news is interesting because it is so far away while also being within reach of human discovery.