GN-z11 is the most distant galaxy ever discovered.
Its light arrives today after journeying for 13.4 billion years.
At this great distance, only aggregate starlight appears, not individual stars.
However, transient brightening events are observable.
Cataclysms, like supernovae, can briefly shine as bright as an entire galaxy.
Colliding neutron stars create kilonovae, with brilliant electromagnetic flashes.
At the greatest distances of all, gamma-ray bursts mark the universe’s most energetic events.
Ranging from milliseconds to minutes, they arise from black hole formation.
In 2020, a team of astronomers observing GN-z11 reported a transient but brilliant flash of ultraviolet light.
Transient candidates include Population III supernovae and the ultraviolet counterpart of a gamma-ray burst.
If so, it’s a lotto-winning serendipitous coincidence.
However, many authors warn of satellite foregrounds as confounding factors for extragalactic astronomy.
Most tracked debris populates low-Earth orbit.
But some possess highly elliptical orbits, like Breeze-M stages of Russia’s Proton rockets.
One such rocket stage, launched in 2015, was likely the culprit here.
In direct sunlight, 13,758 km from Earth, this object crossed Keck’s view at the pivotal moment.
A transiting satellite, not a distant cataclysm, caused this flare.
To avoid future confusion, a universal Earth-orbiting satellite database is required.
Mostly Mute Monday tells an astronomical story in images, visuals, and no more than 200 words. Talk less; smile more.