Icarus, the farthest star ever seen
NASA, ESA and Patrick Kelly/University of Minnesota

Icarus, the farthest star ever seen

Icarus, whose official name is MACS J1149+2223 Lensed Star 1, is the farthest individual star ever seen. It is visible only because it is being magnified by the gravity of a massive galaxy cluster, located about five billion light-years from Earth. Called MACS J1149+2223, this cluster, shown at left, sits between the Earth and the galaxy that contains the distant star. The team had been using Hubble to monitor a supernova in the far-off spiral galaxy when, in 2016, they spotted a point of light near the supernova that began to brighten. The panels at the right show the view in 2011, without Icarus visible, compared with the star’s brightening in 2016.


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