Sunday, July 3, 2011

Newly Discovered Quasar is the brightest, and Most Ancient Ever Seen

Image Credit:ESO/M. Kornmesser

VIA: GGB on tumblr-

Discovered by a team of European astronomers after five years spent analyzing data collected by The European UKIRT Infrared Deep Sky Survey as well as a variety of other Telescopes, including the ESO's Very Large Telescope (why do all space agencies feel the need to be so uncreative when naming things?), ULAS J1120+0641 , is the brightest, and most distant quasar ever found.

“This quasar is a vital probe of the early Universe. It is a very rare object that will help us to understand how supermassive black holes grew a few hundred million years after the Big Bang,” says Stephen Warren, the study’s team leader.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, Quasars are very bright, very distant, and therefore ancient galaxies that are believed to be powered by supermassive black holes at their centers. ULAS J1120+0641 is believed to be powered by a black hole with an estimated mass of 2 billion times that of the sun.

As for it's distance from the Earth and the age of the object, this newly discovered ancient galaxy is located so far from the Earth that the light being emitted by it is stretched beyond the visible spectrum, and is therefore detectable primarily in the infrared. That means that the light being emitted by the galaxy would have taken around 12.9 billion years to reach Earth. So from our perspective, the galaxy appears as it would have an estimated 770 million years after the Big Bang.


This ESOcast is about the discovery of the most distant quasar found to date. This brilliant beacon is powered by a black hole with a mass two billion times that of the Sun. It is by far the brightest object yet discovered in the early Universe.

Posted by Youtube user: ESOobservatory

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