Sunday, 16 June, 2019

Hubble Detects Brightest Quasar in the Observable Universe

Hubble Space Telescope's premier camera shuts down Space news: Light formed at beginning of TIME reaches Earth reaches Earth | Daily Star
Sandy Nunez | 10 January, 2019, 22:28

Due to their brightness and distance, quasars provide a unique glimpse into the conditions in the early Universe.

The quasar - a bright nucleus of energy at the center of galaxy formation - has the highest luminosity of any object recorded in the early universe.

It began its journey soon after the Big Bang created the universe almost 12.8 billion years ago - which was nearly 8 billion years before our solar system had even formed.

Light from the quasar serendipitously passed near a galaxy between Earth and the source on its path to us, scientists found.

By chance a galaxy in the foreground acted as a gravitational lens and magnified the ancient quasar.

"If it weren't for this makeshift cosmic telescope, the quasar's light would appear about 50 times dimmer", said study leader Professor Xiaohui Fan from Arizona University. "That object had been sitting in the database for a few years now, but no one had looked at that part of the sky for quasars, because we usually don't".

Calculations found that the light had been significantly "redshifted" - a phenomenon where the wavelength of a beam of light expands over vast amounts of time and distance.

Despite the quasar's brightness Hubble was able to spot it only because its appearance was strongly affected by strong gravitational lensing.

The quasar, named J0439+1634, is believed to be fueled by a supermassive black hole at the heart of a young forming galaxy. The image is packed with bright star clusters and clouds of gas and dust.

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They are typically 3,260 light-years across.

The newly discovered quasar, catalogued as J043947.08+163415.7, is no exception to this; its brightness is equivalent to about 600 trillion Suns and the supermassive black hole powering it is several hundred million times as massive as our Sun.

The problems with the Wide Field Camera 3 started on Tuesday, forcing the telescope is use its other three active instruments to continue its science observations while the anomaly is investigated, the agency wrote. By comparison, the Milky Way produces about one new star a year.

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

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

Co-author Fabian Walter, of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany, said it was a prime candidate for further investigation.

With these telescopes they will be able to look in the vicinity of the supermassive black hole and directly measure the influence of its gravity on the surrounding gas and star formation. The Hubble Space Telescope's premier camera has shut down.

This refocused it in our direction - allowing the twin Gemini telescopes in Hawaii and Chile to probe the quasar in great detail.