“the last blank bit of the map of the Universe”

[Image Credit: NASA/Swift/Stefan Immler] The Irish Times follows the BBC in reporting the publication in Nature of detailed observations of the most distant cosmic object to be detected by telescope, GRB 090423 – a gamma ray burst with a red-shift of 8.2, corresponding to a distance of around 13.035 billion light years, when the Universe was only 630 million years old. It’s confirmation of the initial findings noted back in April this year – when I incorrectly attributed the sighting to the Spitzer Space Telescope rather than Swift. Still, telescopes, eh? There’s also an informative Nature video report here [not embeddable]. And here’s a short Nasa animation of a gamma ray burst from the earlier report of the Swift observation. [Video Credit: NASA/Swift/Cruz deWilde]

Adds Embedded Nature video report.

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  • Greenflag

    Surely the last blank bit of THIS universe ? So if the solar system has a heliosphere have they conjured up a name yet for the edge of THIS universe -we seem to be getting close enough to the edge no ?
    Will there be inter universal space just as there is interstellar or intergalactic space ?

    Mind boggling stuff Pete but ffs stop scaring us with those ‘death ‘ ray simulations 😉

  • So if the solar system has a heliosphere have they conjured up a name yet for the edge of THIS universe -we seem to be getting close enough to the edge no ?

    The visible edge of the universe is the cosmic horizon – and it’s the edge not because the universe has a finite size, but because it has a finite age and there hasn’t been enough time for light to reach us from any farther away. There’s no evidence to suggest the universe stops at that point – in fact it would be a remarkable coincidence if it did. The latest cosmological observations imply that the universe is actually infinite.

  • Greenflag

    andrew gallagher ,

    Cosmic horizon eh ? I’ll add it immediately to my universal (no pun intended ) lexicon of galactic lore .

    ‘but because it has a finite age and there hasn’t been enough time for light to reach us from any farther away.’

    As I understand it this light is from a time when the ‘universe ‘ was some 600 million years in existence . So there must/may have been younger objects out there which were formed earlier than the 600 million year current boundary ? We haven’t seen these objects because nobody has discovered them yet? or is it a question that it took at least 600 million years from the time of the big bang for the first stars to form ?

    ‘The latest cosmological observations imply that the universe is actually infinite. ‘

    On the other hand what the research may be seeing is an ‘infinity’ which ends where the beginning of another ‘infinity ‘ begins for some other ‘universe ‘ to which we cannot enter or see because their ‘physics ‘ won’t allow us and also vice versa ?

    Thanks for the info .

  • Yes, there must be younger objects – although they’re mostly very difficult to see. There is one exception – the cosmic microwave background is the light from the initial cosmic fireball, redshifted almost out of existence.

    The “latest observations” I was referring to were the ones that imply the accelerating expansion of the universe. It is a standard solution of Einstein’s gravitational equation that an accelerating universe is infinite in extent – only decelerating ones can be finite-sized.

    And yes, it has been proposed that there are remote regions of the universe where perhaps different physics holds sway. They would need to be separated from anything we can see by some impassable region of ultra-fast expansion (so that an event horizon separates the two “universes”). This is all speculative, of course.

  • Wilde Rover

    Andrew Gallagher,

    “The “latest observations” I was referring to were the ones that imply the accelerating expansion of the universe.”

    A little depressing when you consider the possibility that other potential alien species could be developing technology to visit each other but by the time they do their galaxies will have moved too far away from each other.

    (Or when you consider how people on this planet treat each other, perhaps it’s not so depressing after all)

  • Pete Baker

    Adds Embedded Nature video report.