Monday, 18 March, 2019

Hubble Space Telescope’s team works to revive camera amid NASA shutdown

Hubble Space Telescope’s team works to revive camera amid NASA shutdown Ultrabright Quasar Lit Up the Early Universe
Elijah Vega | 13 January, 2019, 20:10

"On the orbital telescope Hubble has a problem with wide angle camera", - said the representative of NASA.

"We don't expect to find many quasars brighter than that in the whole observable universe", said lead investigator Xiaohui Fan, Regents' Professor of Astronomy at the University of Arizona's Steward Observatory. Their brightness is believed to come from the hot material that falls into the black hole.

It's not all bad news, however: the Hubble recently captured the brightest quasar in the early universe, the space agency revealed on Wednesday.

Astronomers have discovered the brightest object ever seen at a time when the universe was less than one billion years old.

The US team say it has enabled us to "sample light emitted from the dawn of time".

Quasars similar to this latest discovery existed during the period of reionisation in the early days of the universe when radiation from young galaxies and quasars reheated the obscuring hydrogen that had cooled off just 400,000 years after the Big Bang.

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

Hubble has studied objects in our own solar system, discovering some of the tiny moons around Pluto.

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Readings from the object show it to have brightness equivalent to 600trn suns (yes, you read that correctly), with the supermassive black hole powering it being several hundred million times as massive as the sun.

Prof Fan said: "If this galaxy were much brighter, we wouldn't have been able to differentiate it from the quasar".

Besides being bright in visible and infrared wavelengths, the lensed quasar is also bright in submillimeter wavelengths, where it was observed with the JCMT.

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.

He added: "Its properties and its distance make it a prime candidate to investigate the evolution of distant quasars and the role supermassive black holes in their centres had on star formation".

The quasar is ripe for future scrutiny.

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.

"Hubble is still conducting science observations with its other instruments (one camera and two spectrographs) - more than enough to keep the observatory active for the near future", Cheryl Gundy, deputy news chief at the Space Telescope Science Institute told UPI in an email.

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