Hubble finds record-breaking quasar with brightness of 600 trillion suns

James Marshall
January 10, 2019

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

These regions emit huge amounts of electro-magnetic radiation in their jets, and can be a trillion times brighter than the sun.

Named after the American astronomer Edwin Hubble, the veteran telescope has been cranking away for more than quarter of century since it was launched in 1990. The telescope has one other camera and two spectrographs that remain operational and will keep collecting data, NASA said in an announcement.

There are hopes it could provide an insight into the birth of galaxies.

Known as a quasar, this object is the brightest of its kind ever seen in the distant universe.

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

'This discovery demonstrates that strongly gravitationally lensed quasars do exist despite the fact that we've been looking for over 20 years and not found any others this far back in time'.

Researchers at the Gemini Observatory in Hawaii have used data from the Hubble space telescope to find evidence of an ancient quasar in the void of space.

Lead author Xiaohui Fan, from the University of Arizona, said he did not expect to find many quasars brighter than this in the entire universe.

The astronomers only came across it because of a galaxy in the foreground that acted as a gravitational lens - amplifying the ancient light from the quasar.

"Clearly, this black hole is not only accreting gas, but has a lot of star formation around it", said team member Jinyi Yang at the University of Arizona.

An artist's impression showing how the quasar (J043947.08+163415.7) may look close up.

"However, because of the boosting effect of gravitational lensing, the actual rate of star formation could be much lower than the observed brightness suggests".

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

"We would like to have Hubble back up and working as quickly as possible, and Nasa is making that happen", even with the partial government shutdown, she said.

All galaxies have a supermassive black hole at their cores.

'We don't expect to find many quasars brighter than that in the whole observable universe'.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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