Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have spotted a star explosion that is further away from Earth than any previously recorded explosion. Scientists hope the new discovery will help them better understand the origins of the Universe.
Supernova UDS10Wil (SN Wilson) exploded more than 10 billion years ago and took more than 10 billion years for light from the star to be visible from Earth.
SN Wilson is a Type Ia supernova, which refers to a specific type of star explosion used for understanding how the universe has expanded over time.
In a statement regarding the find, research leader David Jones of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland writes:
“This new distance record holder opens a window into the early universe, offering important new insights into how these stars explode … We can test theories about how reliable these detonations are for understanding the evolution of the universe and its expansion.”
SN Wilson is four percent further away from Earth than the previous record holder. The four percent difference equates to 350 million years further back in time than the previous record holder.
According to Adam Riess, an astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland:
“If supernovae were popcorn, the question is how long before they start popping? You may have different theories about what is going on in the kernel. If you see when the first kernels popped and how often they popped, it tells you something important about the process of popping corn.”
Scientists will use the data they collect to understand when the elements that seeded the universe were created. Astronomers also want to examine the star to determine what triggers massive star explosions.
The Hubble Space program is currently undergoing a three-year-initiative focused on discovering distant stars and other planetary bodies.
Scientists believe the Universe began 13.8 billion years ago, and the discovery of Supernova UDS10Wil brings them one step closer to reaching for the origins of the big bang.