NASA's Hubble Space Telescope's premier camera shuts down

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

The light from quasar J0439+1634, about 12.8 billion light-years away, bends as it passes by a galaxy roughly six billion light-years away.

The shining light of the quasar is equivalent to 600 trillion Suns.

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Lead author Xiaohui Fan, from the University of Arizona, said he did not expect to find many quasars brighter than this in the entire universe.

Quasars are massive celestial objects which emit huge amounts of energy.

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. However, due to its distance it only became visible as its image was made brighter and larger by gravitational lensing. Both the foreground galaxy and the quasar is spotted by the Hubble SpaceTelescope.

"If a reboot doesn't work, there are redundant systems we can switch instruments over to", Brown said. Their brightness is believed to come from the hot material that falls into the black hole.

"This detection gives us a clue about how to find a population of "phantom quasars, '" Pacucci said".

Pacucci and his colleagues said the super-bright quasar, catalogued as J043947.08+163415.7, could hold the record for being the brightest in the early universe for quite some time. "For decades we thought that lensed quasars should be very common in the faraway universe, but this is the first source of this kind that we have found".

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"The puzzling growth of extremely bright quasars within less than a billion years after the Big Bang might be partly a mirage". The observations also led to a determination of the mass of the black hole powering the quasar. "The combination of Keck's large collecting area, powerful instruments, and unparalleled observing conditions on Maunakea allows us to study objects at literally the edge of the observable universe and constantly expand our cosmic horizon".

The quasar was found in the constellation Taurus, which is close to the plane of the Milky Way galaxy.

"The Wide Field Camera 3 on the Hubble Space Telescope suspended operations due to a hardware problem".

Dissecting a significant swath of the infrared part of the light's spectrum revealed the tell-tale signature of magnesium.

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.

The quasar is ripe for future scrutiny.

Tom Brown, the Hubble mission head at the Space Telescope Science Institute, said teams are busy troubleshooting the issue and a reboot to the system might be an option as a fix.

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