Published: Sun, January 13, 2019
Research | By Raquel Erickson

Hubble Space Telescope's premier camera shuts down

Hubble Space Telescope's premier camera shuts down

The quasar gets its brightness from a supermassive black hole: material from a disk of gas surrounding the black hole falls in, leading to blasts of energy at many different wavelengths, according to the statement.

"The detection of this peculiar source in the faraway universe is a major discovery for a surprising reason", said Yale postdoctoral associate Fabio Pacucci, co-author of a study which will be published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, as well as lead author of a follow-up paper on the theoretical implications of the discovery. "We don't expect to find many quasars brighter than that in the whole observable Universe!".

Even though you might think it would be impossible to miss, the Hubble Space Telescope was only able to spot it thanks to the recently harnessed ability to observe gravitational lensing.

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

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.

Catalogued as J043947.08+163415.7, it is so old the light being received from it started its journey when the universe was only about a billion years old. However, it is still not known for certain which objects provided the reionising photons.

Gemini data contained the tell-tale signature of magnesium which is critical for determining how far back in time we are looking as well as aiding in the determination of the mass of the black hole powering the quasar. Energetic objects such as this newly discovered quasar could help to solve this mystery.


Scientists will begin gathering data on the quasar including using the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope to try to identify the chemical composition and temperatures of intergalactic gas in the early universe.

Tuesday's hardware failure happened in the telescope's wide-field camera, which was installed by spacewalking astronauts in 2009.

Learning more about this quasar, which also appears to be producing 10,000 stars per year, can teach researchers more about this distant but pivotal time in history, when the first stars and galaxies were kindling and shaping the universe to what we know today.

[2] The brightness of the quasar includes the magnification factor of 50. It shines with light equivalent to 600 trillion suns and is located 12.8 billion light-years from Earth.

[3] Because of the boosting effect of gravitational lensing, the actual rate of star formation could be much lower.

All servicing missions for Hubble have been completed by NASA's space shuttles.

Like this: