New GRB becomes the most distant object known
Credit: Gemini North Telescope
GRBs are super-massive bursts of energy that can be seen over great distances. Astronomers believe this particular burst of energy, known as GRB 090423, occured during the explosion of an extremely massive star - an event known as a supernova. The results of the explosion will be visible for several days and will most likely have led to the formation of a small black-hole in the place where the star used to be.
Although the burst only lasted for 10 seconds, it was immediately detected by the Swift Satellite, which quickly directed ground-based observatories to observe the new target. The spectrum of the object was then used to calculate the redshift of the object. Redshift is the measure astronomers use to deduce the distance of far off objects, like galaxies.
Credit: Edo Berger Harvard/CfA
From the above graph, it can be seen that the new discovery is way ahead of all previously known 'most distant' objects, and comes from a chaotic time during the early history of the Universe when galaxies were just starting to form.