Space is vast. So vast, in fact, that if a sun exploded shortly after the Big Bang, the light from the fire would have only brushed the Earth's surface in the last few months. One such gamma-ray burst, believed to be 12.1 billion years old, was detected by Southern Methodist University in Dallas on April 19th. Since astronomers don't know much about the shape or structure of the early universe, data from the burst will be trawled in order to glean more facts about where we all came from. In many ways, it's a bit like getting a telegram from a long-deceased relative about buried treasure, except it's nothing like that.

[Image credit: Southern Methodist University]