By Nicola Davis
It might look like a tiny speck amid a bejewelled vista of the universe, but scientists say a pinprick of light in an image captured by the Hubble space telescope is the most distant individual star ever seen that is not a supernova.
The team behind the find say the light was emitted from the star – dubbed Icarus but officially named MACS J1149+2223 Lensed Star 1 – when it was more than 9bn light years from Earth. Icarus is now much further away but will have died, forming either a black hole or a neutron star.
“We are looking back three-quarters of the way almost to the big bang,” said Dr Patrick Kelly, first author of the research from the University of Minnesota.
Stars at such distance are normally too faint to be identified individually, unless they explode in a supernova. But it seems a chance alignment of the heavens made Icarus visible.
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