NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has established an extraordinary new benchmark: detecting the light of a star that existed within the first billion years after the universe’s birth in the big bang – the farthest individual star ever seen to date.
The find is a huge leap further back in time from the previous single-star record holder; detected by Hubble in 2018. That star existed when the universe was about 4 billion years old, or 30 percent of its current age, at a time that astronomers refer to as “redshift 1.5.” Scientists use the word “redshift” because as the universe expands, light from distant objects is stretched or “shifted” to longer, redder wavelengths as it travels toward us.
The newly detected star is so far away that its light has taken 12.9 billion years to reach Earth, appearing to us as it did when the universe was only 7 percent of its current age, at redshift 6.2. The smallest objects previously seen at such a great distance are clusters of stars, embedded inside early galaxies.
“We almost didn’t believe it at first, it was so much farther than the previous most-distant, highest redshift star,” said astronomer Brian Welch of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, lead author of the paper describing the discovery, which is published in the March 30 journal Nature. The discovery was made from data collected during Hubble’s RELICS (Reionization Lensing Cluster Survey) program, led by co-author Dan Coe at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), also in Baltimore.
“Normally at these distances, entire galaxies look like small smudges, with the light from millions of stars blending together,” said Welch. “The galaxy hosting this star has been magnified and distorted by gravitational lensing into a long crescent that we named the Sunrise Arc.”
After studying the galaxy in detail, Welch determined that one feature is an extremely magnified star that he called Earendel, which means “morning star” in Old English. The discovery holds promise for opening up an uncharted era of very early star formation.
This detailed view highlights the star Earendel’s position along a ripple in space-time (dotted line) that magnifies it and makes it possible for the star to be detected over such a great distance—nearly 13 billion light-years. Also indicated is a cluster of stars that is mirrored on either side of the line of magnification. The distortion and magnification are created by the mass of a huge galaxy cluster located in between Hubble and Earendel. The mass of the galaxy cluster is so great that it warps the fabric of space, and looking through that space is like looking through a magnifying glass—along the edge of the glass or lens, the appearance of things on the other side are warped as well as magnified.
Credits: Science: NASA, ESA, Brian Welch (JHU), Dan Coe (STScI); Image processing: NASA, ESA, Alyssa Pagan (STScI)
“Earendel existed so long ago that it may not have had all the same raw materials as the stars around us today,” Welch explained. “Studying Earendel will be a window into an era of the universe that we are unfamiliar with, but that led to everything we do know. It’s like we’ve been reading a really interesting book, but we started with the second chapter, and now we will have a chance to see how it all got started,” Welch said.
When Stars Align
The research team estimates that Earendel is at least 50 times the mass of our Sun and millions of times as bright, rivaling the most massive stars known. But even such a brilliant, very high-mass star would be impossible to see at such a great distance without the aid of natural magnification by a huge galaxy cluster, WHL0137-08, sitting between us and Earendel. The mass of the galaxy cluster warps the fabric of space, creating a powerful natural magnifying glass that distorts and greatly amplifies the light from distant objects behind it.
Thanks to the rare alignment with the magnifying galaxy cluster, the star Earendel appears directly on, or extremely close to, a ripple in the fabric of space. This ripple, which is defined in optics as a “caustic,” provides maximum magnification and brightening. The effect is analogous to the rippled surface of a swimming pool creating patterns of bright light on the bottom of the pool on a sunny day. The ripples on the surface act as lenses and focus sunlight to maximum brightness on the pool floor.
This caustic causes the star Earendel to pop out from the general glow of its home galaxy. Its brightness is magnified a thousandfold or more. At this point, astronomers are not able to determine if Earendel is a binary star, though most massive stars have at least one smaller companion star.
Confirmation with Webb
Astronomers expect that Earendel will remain highly magnified for years to come. It will be observed by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope. Webb’s high sensitivity to infrared light is needed to learn more about Earendel, because its light is stretched (redshifted) to longer infrared wavelengths due to the universe’s expansion.
“With Webb we expect to confirm Earendel is indeed a star, as well as measure its brightness and temperature,” Coe said. These details will narrow down its type and stage in the stellar lifecycle. “We also expect to find the Sunrise Arc galaxy is lacking in heavy elements that form in subsequent generations of stars. This would suggest Earendel is a rare, massive metal-poor star,” Coe said.
Earendel’s composition will be of great interest for astronomers, because it formed before the universe was filled with the heavy elements produced by successive generations of massive stars. If follow-up studies find that Earendel is only made up of primordial hydrogen and helium, it would be the first evidence for the legendary Population III stars, which are hypothesized to be the very first stars born after the big bang. While the probability is small, Welch admits it is enticing all the same.
“With Webb, we may see stars even farther than Earendel, which would be incredibly exciting,” Welch said. “We’ll go as far back as we can. I would love to see Webb break Earendel’s distance record.”
Record Broken: Hubble Spots Farthest Star Ever Seen
Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Lead Producer: Paul Morris
The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and ESA (European Space Agency). NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland, conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy in Washington, D.C.
I am writing to urge you to strengthen transparency and traceability throughout the seafood industry to help end illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing and seafood fraud. Americans have a right to know more about the seafood they eat and should have confidence that their dollars are not supporting the pillaging of the oceans or human rights abuses at sea. All seafood sold in the U.S. should be safe, legally caught, responsibly sourced, and honestly labeled. Until then, honest fishermen, seafood businesses, consumers and the oceans will pay the price.
IUU fishing poses one of the greatest threats to our oceans, costing the global seafood industry as much as $26 billion to $50 billion annually. In the United States, up to 85% of the fish consumed is imported. IUU fishing can include fishing without authorization, ignoring catch limits, operating in closed areas, targeting protected wildlife, and fishing with prohibited gear. These illicit activities can destroy essential habitats, severely deplete fish populations, and threaten global food security. These actions not only contribute to overfishing, but also give illegal fishermen an unfair advantage over those that play by the rules.
IUU fishing is a low-risk, high reward activity, especially on the high seas where a fragmented legal framework and lack of enforcement allow it to thrive. In 2016, the U.S. government established the Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP), requiring catch documentation and traceability for some seafood at risk of illegal fishing and seafood fraud. Unfortunately, SIMP currently only applies to 13 types of seafood and only traces them from the boat to the U.S. border. A 2019 Oceana study tested popular seafood not covered by SIMP and found that 1 in every 5 fish tested nationwide was mislabeled, demonstrating that seafood fraud is still a problem in the United States. Seafood fraud ultimately hurts honest fishermen and seafood businesses that play by the rules, masks conservation and health risks of certain species, and cheats consumers who fall victim to a bait-and-switch.
If the U.S were to expand SIMP to all seafood — requiring information about how, when and where seafood was caught or produced — and if that information followed the product from the fishing boat or farm to the dinner plate, consumers could be confident that their seafood is safe, legally caught and honestly labeled. To expand transparency of fishing, public vessel tracking systems like the automatic identification system (AIS) — which broadcasts a vessel’s location, direction, and speed — should be required on more fishing boats to shine a light on what is happening beyond the horizon. Adopting stronger requirements for imported seafood would also ensure that it is held to the same standards as seafood caught in the United States.
Taking action to combat IUU fishing, stop seafood fraud and expand transparency has strong bipartisan support. A 2020 Ipsos poll, commissioned by Oceana, found that 89% of registered voters agree that imported seafood should be held to the same standards as U.S. caught seafood. Nearly 90% of voters also agree that the government needs to do more to ensure consumers are purchasing properly labeled seafood. Seventy-seven percent of voters support requirements for all fishing vessels to be publicly trackable.
Your administration has an opportunity to lead in the fight against illegal fishing and seafood fraud, expand transparency and level the playing field for American fishermen and seafood businesses, while protecting U.S. consumers and the oceans. The United States must take decisive action to combat IUU fishing and close the U.S. market to all illegally sourced products, including seafood caught using forced labor or other human rights abuses. The United States should be a leader in traceability of seafood and transparency at sea.
March 28, 2022 — Bravo Packing of Carney’s Point, N.J., has been ordered by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to stop selling, manufacturing and distributing pet food due to (among other violations) “grossly insanitary conditions“.
A Federal judge has “entered a consent decree against” Bravo Packing due to violations of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act).
Previous Bravo Packing Recalls Reported by The Dog Food Advisor
Dog Food Advisor has previously alerted readers about 4 recall events involving Bravo Packing:
Historic Legal Action
This legal ruling marks the first permanent injunction against an animal food manufacturer for violating modern public safety standards in history.
What Caused This Action?
According to Dr. Steven Solomon, director of FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine:
“The FDA has taken this action to protect public health because, despite multiple inspections, notifications of violations, and recalls, this firm continued to operate under insanitary conditions and produce pet food contaminated with harmful bacteria. We will not tolerate firms that put people or animals at risk and will take enforcement actions when needed.”
FDA Warnings and Inspections
The FDA conducted inspections in 2019 and 2021 and issued a warning letter to the facility in 2020.
During these inspections, the FDA found evidence of significant food safety violations including grossly insanitary conditions and the failure to follow good manufacturing practices regulations for animal food.
Multiple samples of finished raw pet food products collected during the inspections tested positive for Salmonella.
Pet food that is contaminated with Salmonella can lead to illness in both the pets consuming the food, as well as humans, who handle the food and care for the pets.
Some of these finished samples as well as environmental samples from the two inspections also tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes.”
What to Do?
Consumers who think they or their pets may have been sickened by these products should seek the assistance of a health care professional.
And contact the FDA to report problems with this or any FDA-regulated product.
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