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Hubble Telescope Captures Brightest Quasar Ever Recorded

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

NASA's Hubble Telescope captured the brilliant beacon of light coming from the quasar which is 12.8 billion light-years away.

A quasar is an enormous and extremely remote celestial object that emits exceptionally large amounts of light. In this case, NASA said the one captured by the Hubble is a supermassive blackhole in the centre of a galaxy.

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.

It is being hailed as the brightest quasar in the early universe on record, and is as bright as 600 trillion Suns.

"We don't expect to find many quasars brighter than that in the whole observable universe," said lead investigator Xiaohui Fan of the University of Arizona, in Tucson.

Hubble Space Telescope image of a very distant quasar that has been magnified and split into three images by the effects of the gravitational field of a foreground galaxy (left). Image: Cover Images

The quasar, officially cataloged as J043947.08+163415.7, was formed during the 'reionization', or a transitional period in the universe's evolution.

During this time hydrogen that had cooled off after the big bang was reheated by young galaxies and other quasars.

Because the quasar is so far away, NASA was only able to detect it because another galaxy closer to Earth acts as a lens, making the quasar look extra bright.

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

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

"Clearly, this black hole is not only accreting gas, but has a lot of star formation around it," said team member Jinyi Yang at the University of Arizona.

"However, because of the boosting effect of gravitational lensing, the actual rate of star formation could be much lower than the observed brightness suggests."

NASA said this quasar was a "lucky" find because of light contamination caused by the bright light from quasar drowning out surrounding starlight.

"Without this high level of magnification, it would make it impossible for us to see the galaxy," said team member Feige Wang of the University of California, Santa Barbara.

"We can even look for gas around the black hole and what the black hole may be influencing in the galaxy."

The Hubble Telescope. Image: Cover Images

NASA will continue to study the quasar to find out more about its gas consumption and identify the chemical composition and temperatures of intergalactic gas in the early universe.

Feature Image: PA