Topic of the Day – Icarus

UPSC Exam Preparation: Topic of the Day – Icarus

Icarus is the farthest star ever seen. It is found at a distance of 9.3 billion lights years away from Earth. The star is about two times as hot as our sun. It derives its name from the ancient Greek mythological figure Icarus.

The star was initially given the name MACS J1149+2223 Lensed Star-1. The newly discovered star is called a blue supergiant.


How was this distant star detected?

  • NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope was made use of for detecting the star.
  • A phenomenon called the “Gravitational lensing” was taken advantage of by the scientists in order to spot this star located more than halfway across the universe. 
  • Under Gravitational lensing, the light is bent by massive galaxy clusters in the line of sight, which enlarges more distant celestial objects. This makes dim, faraway objects like an individual star visible that would otherwise be undetectable.


Significance of the discovery:


  • The star, located in a distant spiral galaxy, is at least 100 times further away than any other star previously observed, with the exception of things like the huge supernova explosions that mark the death of certain stars. Older galaxies have been spotted but their individual stars were indiscernible.
  • It will help in understanding in depth, what the universe looked like.
  • It will help to know in detail, the evolution of stars and the nature of such stars — almost all the way back to the earliest stages of the universe and the first generations of stars.
  • Studying this star is similar to looking closely back in time to when the universe was less than a third of its present age as the light has taken this long to reach Earth. The Big Bang that is the prevailing cosmological model for the universe from the earliest known periods through its subsequent large-scale evolution is studied to have occurred 13.8 billion years ago.


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