Saturday, March 22, 2008

335)Star explodes 7.5 billion light years away from Earth with the emitted light reaching us on Wednesday March 19th 2008, 7.5 billion years later!!

In this article it is important to understand the clear difference between distance and time. 7.5 billion light years away is a measure of distance whereas 7.5 billion years ago is a measure of time elapsed. 1 light year away is the distance light travels in 1 year, which is 10 trillion(ie, a 1 with 13 zeroes in front of it) kilometers away.

It is also important to understand that the light that we see coming from a star or other bright object in space is a physical substance. It is an expression of one of the 4 forces present in nature(the Electromagnetic Force) and is made up of discrete particles called photons. As a material substance it also has wave-like properties and light propagates itself at 300,ooo kilometers per second by creating alternating magnetic and electrical wave fields till it reaches its destination. Nothing in the material universe can travel faster than the speed of light. At a speed of 300,000km/sec light will travel 10 trillion kilometers in one year and this is known as a DISTANCE of 1 light year. Light 7.5 billion light years away will therefore take 7.5 billion years to reach us.

The other momentous fact to take away from the event described in the article below is that this stellar explosion occured 7.5 billion years ago whereas our own solar system(made up of our sun and surrounding planets) was only formed about 5 billion years ago. This explosion therefore occured 2.5 billion years before our planet Earth was created and the light emitted from the explosion only reached us 2 days ago.

7.5 billion light years away in kilometers is therefore 75 with 9 zeroes in front of it, multiplied by 1 with 13 zeroes in front of it, giving 75 with 22 zeroes in front of it, kilometers. This is a mind-boggling and unimagineable distance for the human mind to appreciate. It is also a distance that is only about half the size of the actual universe. This brings to my mind the following quotes of Aga Khans III and IV:

"..Islam's basic principle can only be defined as mono-realism and not as monotheism. Consider, for example, the opening declaration of every Islamic prayer: "Allah-o-Akbar". What does that mean? There can be no doubt that the second word of the declaration likens the character of Allah to a matrix which contains all and gives existence to the infinite, to space, to time, to the Universe, to all active and passive forces imaginable, to life and to the soul"(Memoirs of Aga Khan III, 1954)

"The creation according to Islam is not a unique act in a given time but a perpetual and constant event; and God supports and sustains all existence at every moment by His will and His thought. Outside His will, outside His thought, all is nothing, even the things which seem to us absolutely self-evident such as space and time. Allah alone wishes: the Universe exists; and all manifestations are as a witness of the Divine Will"(Memoirs of Aga Khan III, 1954)

"In Islamic belief, knowledge is two-fold. There is that revealed through the Holy Prophet (s.a.s.) and that which man discovers by virtue of his own intellect. Nor do these two involve any contradiction, provided man remembers that his own mind is itself the creation of God. Without this humility, no balance is possible. With it, there are no barriers. Indeed, one strength of Islam has always lain in its belief that creation is not static but continuous, that through scientific and other endeavours, God has opened and continues to open new windows for us to see the marvels of His creation"(Aga Khan IV, Aga Khan University, 16 March 1983, Karachi, Pakistan)

Above 3 quotes and excerpts taken from:, March 21 2008:
Story Highlights:
-The aging star exploded in a gamma ray burst 7.5 billion light years away
-Explosion set record for most distant object seen on Earth by naked eye
-Before it exploded, the star was about 40 times bigger than our sun.
-Explosion vaporized any planet nearby

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The explosion of a star halfway across the universe was so huge it set a record for the most distant object that could be seen on Earth by the naked eye.

A star 7.5 billion light years away exploded, giving off the brightest gamma-ray burst afterglow ever seen.

The aging star, in a previously unknown galaxy, exploded in a gamma ray burst 7.5 billion light years away, its light finally reaching Earth early Wednesday, March 19th 2008.

The gamma rays were detected by NASA's Swift satellite at 2:12 a.m. "We'd never seen one before so bright and at such a distance," NASA's Neil Gehrels said.

It was bright enough to be seen with the naked eye.

However, NASA has no reports that any skywatchers spotted the burst, which lasted less than an hour.

Telescopic measurements show that the burst -- which occurred when the universe was about half its current age -- was bright enough to be seen without a telescope.

"Someone would have had to run out and look at it with a naked eye, but didn't," said Gehrels, chief of NASA's astroparticles physics lab at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

The starburst would have appeared as bright as some of the stars in the handle of the Little Dipper constellation, said Penn State University astronomer David Burrows. How it looked wasn't remarkable, but the distance traveled was.

The 7.5 billion light years away far eclipses the previous naked eye record of 2.5 million light years. One light year is 5.9 trillion miles(about 10 trillion kilometers).

"This is roughly halfway to the edge of the universe," Burrows said.

Before it exploded, the star was about 40 times bigger than our sun. The explosion vaporized any planet nearby, Gehrels said.

Easy Nash

The Qur'an itself repeatedly recommends Muslims to become better educated in order better to understand God's creation: Aga Khan IV(2007)
The Quran tells us that signs of Allah's Sovereignty are found in the contemplation of His Creation: Aga Khan IV(2007)
This notion of the capacity of the human intellect to understand and to admire the creation of Allah will bring you happiness in your everyday lives: Aga Khan IV(2007)
Islam, eminently logical, placing the greatest emphasis on knowledge, purports to understand God's creation: Aga Khan IV(2006)