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"For the first time ever we're seeing an individual normal star -- not a supernova, not a gamma ray burst, but a single stable star -- at a distance of nine billion light years," said Alex Filippenko, a professor of astronomy at UC Berkeley and one of many co-authors of the report. "These lenses are amazing cosmic telescopes."
Kelly saw a second star in the Hubble image, which could either be a mirror image of Icarus, or a different star being gravitationally lensed. "There are alignments like this all over the place as background stars or stars in lensing galaxies move around, offering the possibility of studying very distant stars dating from the early universe, just as we have been using gravitational lensing to study distant galaxies," Filippenko said. "For this type of research, nature has provided us with a larger telescope than we can possibly build!"