29 Oct 2009

Death of star most distant event yet observed

9:21 pm on 29 October 2009

Astronomers have detected the explosion of a star that sets a new record for the most distant event ever seen in the universe.

In the journal Nature the astronomers say the massive star died 630 million years after the Big Bang, which brought the universe into being.

Two teams of astronomers observed the gamma-ray burst 13.1 billion light-years away.

British astronomer Nial Tanvir described the observation as "a step back in cosmic time".

Professor Tanvir led an international team studying the afterglow of the explosion, using the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope in Hawaii.

He told the BBC his team was able to observe the afterglow for 10 days, while the gamma ray burst itself lasted about 12 seconds.