Thursday, May 26, 2011

Exploding star that's the oldest and most distant thing we've ever seen - 26th may 2011

Astronomers may have detected the most distant and ancient object ever seen, a massive explosion that lit up the early universe soon after its birth.

When the blast, known as a gamma ray burst (GRB), occurred, the universe was less than four per cent of its present age and 10 per cent of its current size.

Light from the event has taken 13.14billion light years to reach the Earth. It began its journey only about 600million years after the Big Bang that created the cosmos.

The source of the burst, designated GRB 090429B, was an exploding star which for a brief time shone a million million times more brightly than the Sun.

Its fading ‘afterglow’ was detected by the American space agency's Swift satellite in April 2009.

Two years of analysis has now shown the object to be a candidate record breaker.

British astronomer Dr Andrew Levan, from the University of Warwick, who was one of the first to view the explosion, said: ‘The race to find distant objects stems from the desire to find and study the first stars and galaxies that formed in the Universe, in the first few hundred million years after the Big Bang. Read More