A team of astronomers led by Xiaohui Fan of the University of Arizona identified the brightest quasar ever discovered. The fascinating space object originated in the early Universe, and its finding represents a key point for the scientists to shed more light on how early galaxies formed.
Quasars represent active supermassive black holes such as those lurking at the center of galaxies. Our home galaxy, Milky Way, for example, also has a supermassive black hole at its core, the so-called Sagittarius A. These black holes eliminate powerful jets when they absorb the nearby matter, becoming quasars as we see them.
The team of scientists headed by Xiaohui Fan of the University of Arizona noticed this brightest quasar, dubbed as J043947.08+163415.7, by using the observations from ground-based telescopes in Hawaii. However, they were lucky to make such a finding, as quasars are dozens of billions of light years away from us.
Astronomers Identified The Brightest Quasar Ever Discovered
Even though the quasar in question shines like 600 trillion suns, it is also at 12.8 billion light years away from the Earth. Therefore, no human-built machine could’ve seen it without a little help from the Universe itself. The J043947.08+163415.7 quasar became visible to scientists thanks to a phenomenon known as gravitational lensing which means that the galactic bent acts like a magnifying glass.
But even so, the researchers needed to use the Hubble Space Telescope to get a clear image of this brightest quasar ever found in the early Universe. With the help of Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers “traveled” back in time to the earliest days of space since this quasar formed right after the Big Bang so that it could help us better understand how early galaxies formed.
“Prior to this, no stars, quasars, or galaxies had been formed, until objects like this appeared like candles in the dark,” team member Jinyi Yang said.
Jasmine holds a Master’s in Journalism from Ryerson University in Toronto and writes professionally in a broad variety of genres. She has worked as a senior manager in public relations and communications for major telecommunication companies, and is the former Deputy Director for Media Relations with the Modern Coalition. Jasmine writes primarily in our LGBTTQQIAAP and Science section.