Wednesday, 21 August, 2019


NASA says one of Hubble's best cameras is busted

NASA says one of Hubble's best cameras is busted NASA says one of Hubble's best cameras is busted
Kristine Garrett | 13 January, 2019, 20:13

The operations of the Hubble Space Telescope's most technologically advanced camera have been suspended after it encountered a hardware problem, NASA said.

"The detection of this peculiar source in the faraway universe is a major discovery for a surprising reason", said Yale postdoctoral associate Fabio Pacucci, co-author of a study which will be published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, as well as lead author of a follow-up paper on the theoretical implications of the discovery.

The powerful glow of a quasar is created by a supermassive black hole which is surrounded by an accretion disc. There are hopes it could provide an insight into the birth of galaxies. As astronomers look farther into space in terms of distance, it allows them to look farther back in time, closer to the time of the Big Bang.

The quasar existed at a transitional period in the universe's evolution, called reionization, where light from young galaxies and quasars reheated the obscuring hydrogen that cooled off not long after the Big Bang.

"Prior to this, no stars, quasars, or galaxies had been formed, until objects like this appeared like candles in the dark".

Readings from the object show it to have brightness equivalent to 600trn suns (yes, you read that correctly), with the supermassive black hole powering it being several hundred million times as massive as the sun.

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

Astronomers generally avoid looking for quasars in this region, because the abundance of stars and dust there drown out the faint quasar light. It has the capability of spanning the electromagnetic spectrum from the ultraviolet through visible light and into the near-infrared.

"We don't expect to find many quasars brighter than that in the whole observable universe". "But we are still figuring out what the right path forward is". This is due to hot dust heated by intense star formation in the galaxy hosting the lensed quasar.

The data readings suggest that the supermassive black hole is accreting matter at an extremely high rate, yet the quasar is producing as many as 10,000 stars per year.

Scientists will begin gathering data on the quasar including using the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope to try to identify the chemical composition and temperatures of intergalactic gas in the early universe.

Going forward, the highly anticipated (and oft-delayed ) James Webb Space Telescope is expected to take some of the burden off of Hubble, but at this point it's hard to know when that spacecraft will actually make it into orbit.

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