Apr 28, 2009

Most Distant Known Object In The Universe

The Universe is a mighty huge place. It is so big as to seem infinite. With human ingenuity we have managed to create telescopes that peer ever farther into deep space. The energy gathered by our telescopes from these objects is as old as it is distant. If we see a galaxy that is 5 billion light years away we are actually seeing the photons that escaped that galaxy 5 billion years ago. It is time travel basically. The farther we look the further back in time we are looking. In deepest space, before the formation of galaxies as we now know them, the things we humans can see are quasars and gamma ray bursts. This is the story of one such gamma ray burst.
On April 23, NASA’s Swift satellite discovered the burst — a 10-second flash of highly energetic radiation believed to mark the explosive collapse of a massive star into a black hole. - ( Science News )

The image above shows the afterglow from the gamma ray burst seen on April 23rd.
Within three hours of Swift’s detection, astronomers recorded the burst’s infrared afterglow using the U.K. Infra-Red Telescope and the Gemini North Telescope, both on Hawaii’s Mauna Kea. Those observations, reported online (gcn.gsfc.nasa.gov/gcn3_archive.html), suggested that the explosion ignited when the 13.7-billion-year-old universe was only about 630 million years old.
This is an amazing find, and much older than the previous record holder, a galaxy about 12.9 billion light years away. Scientists think that this burst was caused by a giant early star collapsing into a super-massive black hole.
It is truly bad-ass the amount of information that can be gathered about the Universe by sentient bags of meat and water residing in a tiny rocky world, on the edges of a nondescript galaxy, floating among the billions and billions of other galaxies in the Universe. -FUPPETS- loves the future.

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