A Quasar From The Beginning Of Time – Scientists Discover The Brightest Object From Our Early Universe

Tuesday, 10 July 2018 - 1:09PM
Space
Astronomy
Black Holes
Tuesday, 10 July 2018 - 1:09PM
A Quasar From The Beginning Of Time – Scientists Discover The Brightest Object From Our Early Universe
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NASA/JPL-Caltech
Quasars are the brightest things in the universe. Astronomers have spotted several of them recently – but the discovery of PSO J352.4034-15.3373, a quasar roughly 13 billion light-years away, may be the most intriguing yet.

PSO J352.4034-15.3373 was spotted by Very Long Baseline Array and has been observed spitting out the brightest radio waves ever observed and dating back to the dawn of our universe.

How is this possible? Since the quasar is 13 billion light-years away and the particles ejected from it are moving at nearly the speed of light, the signals we're receiving are a snapshot from the very early days of the universe (estimated to be 13.8 billion years old).

According to Eduardo Bañados, a fellow at the Carnegie Institution for Science: "There is a dearth of known strong radio emitters from the universe's youth, and this is the brightest radio quasar at that epoch by an order of magnitude."

Quasars are usually the product of a supermassive black hole at the center of a galaxy, sucking up matter and shooting out titanic beams of energy. To give a sense of just how powerfully bright a quasar is, consider that a quasar can outshine an entire galaxy – which makes sense when you consider that one quasar's energy output can then exceed 100 galaxies.

This quasar – rather than having two jets of material shooting out of the heart of the black hole – may only have one, which can shed light on how fast it's expanding. Studying the quasar may also give astronomers and astrophysicists insight into what the young universe was like.

According to Chris Carilli, of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory: "This quasar's brightness and its great distance make it a unique tool to study the conditions and processes that prevailed in the first galaxies in the universe. We look forward to unraveling more of its mysteries."

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