The Furthest Star From Earth
What is the furthest star
This astronomical question could be answered in two ways; what is the furthest star from Earth and what is the furthest star visible from Earth, visible to the naked eye? The answer to the first question changes all the time, with advances in our ability to detect very distant objects in the universe but I we will take a look at what scientists have discovered so far. The second question is also difficult to answer as there are many factors that affect what an individual can see from different locations.
Credit: NASA - Hubble
The furthest star from Earth ever observed will likely belong to a galaxy in a cluster of galaxies named Borg 58, discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope using the new Wide Field Camera 3 in 2012. This Protocluster of Galaxies lies some 13.1 billion light years away from Earth. It’s often difficult to put these sorts of numbers into perspective so let me try and give you some idea. If you were to travel in a car on a direct freeway at a constant speed of 60 mph (100km h) it would take roughly 141,480,000,000 years to reach these galaxies. What is really scary is that this is still 113 times less than the current US treasury dept. Just saying.
How far is the furthest star from Earth
What is interesting about this protocluster of Galaxies is that it is only visible in the infrared wavelengths of light and until now has remained undetectable to man’s instruments. Now, thanks to Hubble and the advancement in photographic sensitivity they are just on the very edge of what we are able to detect. Amazingly, these galaxies are so distant that light from them has taken over 13 billion years to reach the Earth, so by looking at them we are effectively looking 13 billion years back in time! In fact, the way we see them now is how they would have appeared long before our solar system even existed. To me this is one of the special things about looking at distant objects in the night sky; it's the thought that I am looking through a time portal. This extreme distance and very old age makes these galaxies some of the oldest ever discovered and it is believed they would have formed shortly after the Big Bang.
Whilst the furthest known star from Earth has not been officially identified, it is safe to say that of those stars we know about it would come from this group of galaxies (Borg 58). It is also safe to assume that there are probably stars and galaxies that lie beyond the furthest star, we just need to find them.
The Furthest Visible Star To The Naked Eye.
If you came here looking for what is the furthest visible star to the naked eye, then the answer is going to be very different. If you look toward the Andromeda galaxy then you are effectively looking at the most distant object visible to the naked eye. Although you cannot make out individual stars in the Andromeda galaxy without an optical aid you are looking at a collection of stars that are around 2.5 million light years away. While that is over 5000 times closer than Borg 58 it is still a very long long way away. So next time you are out at night, why not take a look 2.5 million years back in time and glance at the Andromeda galaxy, you will be looking at the furthest visible stars to the naked eye.