Brightest quasar found by Hubble telescope

James Marshall
January 11, 2019

The Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field Camera 3 has been turned off due to hardware anomalies, according to an update from NASA.

The Hubble telescope, which travels the Earth at about 5 miles per second - equivalent to driving from America's East to West Coast in 10 minutes - faces out to space to take pictures of planets, stars and galaxies to help scientists learn about the solar system.

Less than a billion years after the Big Bang, a supermassive black hole began devouring anything within its gravitational grasp; this triggered a firestorm of star formation around the black hole; a galaxy was being born; a blowtorch of energy blazed across the Universe.

Astronomers using data from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have discovered the brightest quasar ever seen in the early Universe - the light received from the object started its journey when the Universe was only about a billion years old.

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.

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

NASA noted that the Wide Field Camera 3, which was installed in 2009, includes redundant electronics that could be used recover the instrument, but didn't offer details about the glitch nor did it immediately respond to a request for comment.

Nasa said the camera stopped working on Tuesday but three other science instruments were still operating and able to continue celestial observations.

"[One, ] complex systems like [the Hubble Space Telescope] only work due to a dedicated team of incredible experts", he explained.

Brown said he is confident the issue will be resolved in the next week or two. "But we are still figuring out what the right path forward is".

It's a bad time for a malfunction, however, considering NASA employees are on involuntary unpaid leave as America is in the midst of a partial government shutdown: President Trump is refusing to sign the paperwork funding the federal government until Congress agrees to build a stupidly expensive fence along the Mexican border for him.

"The flight operations folks are considered essential and we've been in talks on repairs", Brown said. NASA reportedly has formed an investigative team, mostly consisting of contractors and experts from its industry partners, to examine the technical troubles.

Thankfully, private companies are rallying round to investigate the Hubble cockup, and in the meantime the space 'scope is still making observations with its working instruments. "They are getting plenty of science on those".

Last year, the Hubble telescope imaged auroras on Saturn.

NASA sent it into sleep mode, and it was rebooted three weeks later after a backup gyroscope replaced the busted one.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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