Farthest-Ever Star Blast From Ancient Cosmos
Gamma ray burst took 13 billion years to reach Earth
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 29, 2009 8:09 AM CDT
An artist's rendering of a gamma-ray burst. A burst 13 billion light-years away is the furthest object from Earth yet observed.   (Wikimedia)

(Newser) – Astronomers have detected a cosmic object more distant than any ever seen: a gamma ray burst about 13 billion light-years from Earth. The massive, luminous burst occurred about 600 million years after the Big Bang—that is, when the universe was 4% of its current age—and only lasted for about 12 seconds. Scientists say the ancient burst allows an unprecedented view into the earliest days of the universe.

A gamma ray blast takes place when a star dies, collapsing in on itself to form a huge black hole and releasing massive amounts of energy. Two independent groups of astronomers observed the blast, which was first detected by a NASA satellite, reports National Geographic. "This is the last blank bit of the map of the universe: the time between the Big Bang and the formation of these early galaxies," said one of the astronomers.