A distance beyond imagining

To me, astronomy is among the most fascinating of the sciences. NASA reported that on 23 April 09 NASA’s Swift satellite and an international team of astronomers found a gamma-ray burst from a star that died when the universe was only 630 million years old-less than five percent of its present age. The event, named GRB 090423, is the most distant cosmic explosion ever seen.

The satellite information allowed telescopes on Earth to target the burst before its afterglow faded. Astronomers in Chile and the Canary Islands independently measured the explosion’s redshift of 8.2, corresponding to a distance of 13.035 billion light years.

That’s roughly 123,320,000,000,000,000,000,000 (1.2332*10^23) km, a distance beyond imagining.