Published: Thu, January 10, 2019
Science | By

Tech support in space: Broken Hubble telescope camera may get a reboot

Tech support in space: Broken Hubble telescope camera may get a reboot

Hubble is the first major optical telescope to be placed in space, providing an unobstructed view into the universe.

Astronomers said it is by far the brightest quasar discovered so far in the early universe.

This refocused it in our direction - allowing the twin Gemini telescopes in Hawaii and Chile to probe the quasar in great detail. Luckily, the newly studied quasar and galaxy were just bright enough to be flagged as potential distant-universe objects.

"This discovery demonstrates strongly gravitationally lensed quasars do exist despite the fact we've been looking for over 20 years and not found any others this far back in time".

Quasars are powered by supermassive black holes that are believed to lie at the centre of each galaxy.

Less than a billion years after the Big Bang, a supermassive black hole began devouring anything within its gravitational grasp; this triggered a firestorm of star formation around the black hole; a galaxy was being born; a blowtorch of energy blazed across the Universe.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - The Hubble Space Telescope's premier camera has shut down because of a hardware problem. While the mass of the newfound quasar's black hole means it's large for the early universe, it's not among the biggest, Fan told Live Science.

Scientists claim it is by far the brightest quasar yet discovered in the early universe. However, due to its distance it only became visible as its image was made brighter and larger by gravitational lensing.


The WFC3 is out of commission for now but the other three instruments (Advanced Camera for Surveys, the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph and the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph) on the Hubble are working.

The data show not only that the supermassive black hole is accreting matter at an extremely high rate but also that the quasar may be producing up to 10 000 stars per year.

Strong gravitational lensing caused by a dim galaxy between the quasar and the earth enabled the Hubble to spot the quasar, making it appear three times as large and 50 times as bright than without.

Team member Dr Jinyi Yang, also of Arizona University, said: "This is one of the first sources to shine as the Universe emerged from the cosmic dark ages".

The magnifying galaxy is relatively close, compared to the ultra-bright ancient quasar, at only 6 billion light years away. Fabian Walter, from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany.

With these telescopes they will be able to look in the vicinity of the supermassive black hole and directly measure the influence of its gravity on the surrounding gas and star formation.

However, it is still not known for certain which objects provided the reionizing photons.

The discovery is reported in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Like this: