Astronomers Discover Brightest Object in Universe

Artist's impression showing how J043947.08+163415.7 may look close

Also, the Hubble Space Telescope is getting old. Luckily, the newly studied quasar and galaxy were just bright enough to be flagged as potential distant-universe objects.

The Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC-3) on the Hubble Space Telescope has stopped functioning due to an unspecified hardware problem.

Shining with light equivalent to 600 trillion suns, the quasar is fueled by a supermassive black hole at the heart of a young galaxy in the process of forming.

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

NASA said this quasar was a "lucky" find because of light contamination caused by the bright light from quasar drowning out surrounding starlight.

The global research team found the quasar's exceptional brightness to be caused by gravitational lensing, a phenomenon by which the gravity of objects closer to Earth acts as a magnifying glass to observe objects much farther away in space. As astronomers look farther into space in terms of distance, it allows them to look farther back in time, closer to the time of the Big Bang.

Researchers announced its discovery on January 9 at the American Astronomical Society's winter meeting in Seattle. The quasar produces energy as gas falls into a supermassive black hole.


According to the data, the quasar may be producing up to 10,000 stars a year and the supermassive black hole at its center is accreting matter at an extremely high rate.

Triangulum is perfectly positioned for astronomers to study and compare to both our own Milky Way galaxy and one of our other neighbors, Andromeda, as it faces directly towards us, showcasing its near-perfect distribution of stars along its well-defined spiral structure.

Known as gravitational lensing, the gravitational field bends and amplifies the quasar's light.

Co-author Fabian Walter, of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany, said it was a prime candidate for further investigation. Through a process called gravitational lensing, light from the quasar has bent around a galaxy in between the object and Earth, magnifying our view: the quasar appears three times as large and 50 times as bright as it would have otherwise, researchers said in the statement.

Data will now be gathered on the quasar with the use of the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope to try to identify its chemical composition and temperatures of intergalactic gas in the early universe.

Expected to last until sometime between 2030 and 2040, Hubble will be succeeded by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), now scheduled for launch in March 2021.

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