Hubble Telescope discovers ancient quasar with brightness of 600-trillion suns

Mindy Sparks
January 10, 2019

The shining light of the quasar is equivalent to 600 trillion Suns.

A quasar is an enormous and extremely remote celestial object that emits exceptionally large amounts of light.

The quasar is powered by a huge black hole, which is estimated to be several hundred million times bigger than our sun, astronomers will detail in an upcoming paper in Astrophysical Journal Letters. The telescope has one other camera and two spectrographs that remain operational and will keep collecting data, NASA said in an announcement.

Astronomers have just discovered a galaxy with a supermassive black hole at its core, and it's located over 12.8 billion light-years away from Earth, just a billion years shy of the Big Bang.

Astronomers said it is by far the brightest quasar discovered so far in the early universe.

'When we combined the Gemini data with observations from multiple observatories on Maunakea, the Hubble Space Telescope, and other observatories around the world, we were able to paint a complete picture of the quasar and the intervening galaxy, ' said Feige Wang of the University of California, Santa Barbara, who is a member of the discovery team.

The quasar, officially cataloged as J043947.08+163415.7, was formed during the "reionization", or a transitional period in the universe's evolution.

The intervening, or lensing, galaxy in this case makes the quasar appear 50 times brighter than it would otherwise.

He added: "That's something we have been looking for a long time".

"We don't expect to find many quasars brighter than that in the whole observable universe", said lead investigator Xiaohui Fan of the University of Arizona, in Tucson.

The data shows that the quasar may be producing up to 10,000 stars per year, scientists said.

"However, because of the boosting effect of gravitational lensing, the actual rate of star formation could be much lower than the observed brightness suggests". We probably won't know for certain until the United States government shutdown ends and NASA engineers can get back to work.

All galaxies have a supermassive black hole at their cores. Luckily, the newly studied quasar and galaxy were just bright enough to be flagged as potential distant-universe objects.

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