Morning Star: Record-Breaking Star Is 28 Billion Light-Years Away

A bright blue star shining in deep space.

A blue star similar to Earendel; the hot blue star that was 28 billion light-years away from Earth. (Image: Titoonz via Dreamstime)

A team of astronomers announced that they recently detected the farthest star ever seen. The star, nicknamed Earendel, is 28 billion light-years away from Earth. 

The discovery of a 13 billion-year-old star

The star is cataloged as WHL0137-LS, but its catchier name, Earendel, is an Old English name meaning ‘morning star.’ The star spotted by the Hubble Space Telescope is around 8 billion years older than Earth. But more interestingly, Earendel was at least 50 times bigger than Earth’s sun; and it was millions of times brighter.

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How can a star 28 billion light-years away be seen?

Astrophysicists believe that Earendel might be even further than Icarus, the previous record-holding star detected by Hubble in 2018. And according to astronomers, spotting Earendel was a lucky happenstance.

Michelle Thaller, an astronomer at NASA’S Goddard Space Flight Center, said:

“It took this wonderful cosmic coincidence. Everything was lined up perfectly. A nearby cluster of galaxies was lensing space; actually bending space into this natural telescope.”

The hubble telescopes image of the 28 billion light-year star.
A detailed view of the Hubble discovery. (Image: Brian Welch, Dan Coe, Alyssa Pagan via NASA)

Another astronomer, Brian Welch, reported that they could see this star because it was magnified by the galaxy WHL0137-08, found between earth and Earendel. But, he added:

“Typically, you know, if you have a lensed galaxy, it would be magnified by a factor of a few to perhaps ten.” 


However, in this instance, Earendel was magnified by a factor of 1000 to 40,000. 

What type of star is Earendel?

Earendel is probably a hot blue star. It has a mass that is heavier than our Sun by up to 100 times and a surface temperature of about 20,000°K. However, scientists are now uncertain about other properties like its chemical composition.

Also, there is a slight chance that this is a Population III star. In theory, Population III stars are enormous, hot, and luminous stars formed when the universe was relatively young. These primordial stars were made of hydrogen and helium, meaning they had no metals. 

Also, scientists say that heavier elements came from Population III stars. And from these heavier elements came the planets in our universe.

A hot blue star.
Earendel is probably a hot blue star. It has a mass that is 50 to 100 times heavier than our sun. (Image: Archangel80889 via Dreamstime)

Does the Earendel star still exist?

Earendel was a momentous discovery for astronomers and astronomy enthusiasts. But does the star still exist? And how can a 12.9-billion-year-old star be 28 billion light-years away?

Unfortunately, our mystery star is “dead.” The earliest stars formed about 100 million years after the Big Bang. But Earendel is probably in the second-generation or third-generation group of stars. And stars with such large masses have shorter lifespans. 

As mentioned, Earendel burned a million times brighter than our Sun. So it burned its hydrogen supply quickly, becoming a supernova after 100 million years.

When Earendel emitted the light seen by the Hubble, the star was only 4 billion light-years away from our then-young Milky Way Galaxy. But the starlight, as seen today, is 28 billion light-years away from Earth because the universe is still expanding. 

Also, in perspective, Earendel is a whopping 8.2 billion years older than our Sun and Earth. 

A digital image of the hubble telescope on Earth background.
The Hubble telescope spotted the Earendel Star. (Image: Archangel80889 via Dreamstime)

What does Earendel’s discovery mean?

The discovery of Earendel may shed more light on the universe and the Big Bang. Also, astronomers hope to get more facts using the new James Webb telescope that was launched on Dec. 25, 2021. 

Brian Welch said:

“Combining the observations of the Webb and Hubble will allow us to learn about the microlenses in the galaxy clusters, which include exotic objects like primordial black holes.”

(El Pais)


How far is 1 light-year?

A light-year is used to measure astronomical distances. One light-year is about 9.5 trillion kilometers.

How far is our nearest star?

Proxima Centauri, our next closest star, is 4.24 light-years from Earth. In comparison, the Sun is only 8 light-minutes away. In short, light from the Sun reaches Earth in only 8 minutes. However, it takes 4.24 years for light to travel from Proxima Centauri.

Can we land on a star?

No. Even if we could, it would take thousands of years to reach Proxima Centauri (about 19,000-76,000 years).

Which galaxy does Earendel belong to?

Earendel belongs to the Sunrise galaxy.

How big is our Milky Way Galaxy?

The Milky Way Galaxy is approximately 100 million light-years in diameter.

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