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Hubble Space Telescope’s most advanced camera shut down

10 January 2019

The Hubble Space Telescope has discovered the brightest quasar seen in the early universe which has the brightness of about 600 trillion suns.

Data was collated from NASA, the ESA and the Gemini North telescope in Hawai'i.

They believe the quasar can provide an insight into galaxies' birth, when the universe was about a billion years old. The quasar is one of the brightest objects in the early Universe.

Quasars are the extremely bright nuclei of active galaxies.

They say the light began its journey nearly 12.8billion years ago, soon after the Big Bang created the universe.

The quasar can be seen clearly, with light emitting from the centre.

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This massive object has a significant gravitational pull which "bent" the light and magnified it in Earth's direction.

"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. This is the first time the camera has acted up like this, said Cheryl Gundy, a spokeswoman with the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, which handle science operations for the telescope.

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.

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

All galaxies have a supermassive black hole at their cores. The image is packed with bright star clusters and clouds of gas and dust. It's burning brighter than 600 trillion suns.

A red shift value of 6.51 is one of the largest recorded by astronomers and helped to closely estimate the age of the quasar.

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However, the telescope will continue to perform science observations with its other three active instruments, while the Wide Field Camera 3 anomaly is investigated, the United States space agency said in a statement.

The data shows the quasar may be producing up to 10,000 stars a year and the supermassive black hole is accreting matter to itself at an extremely high rate, scientists said.

NASA said this blackhole formed less than a billion years after the big bang, and triggered a star formation that lead to a galaxy being born.

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

Handout artist's impression showing how J043947.08+163415.7, a very distant quasar powered by a supermassive black hole, may look close up.

NASA said the camera stopped working Tuesday.

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NASA's Hubble Telescope captured the brilliant beacon of light coming from the quasar which is 12.8 billion light-years away. Now they are analyzing a detailed 20-hour spectrum from the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope, which will allow them to identify the chemical composition and temperatures of intergalactic gas in the early Universe.