Scientists Discover Brightest, Oldest Quasar
Black hole powering it was 2B more massive than the sun
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 29, 2011 4:27 PM CDT
An artist's conception of the newly discovered quasar.   ((AP Photo/European Southern Observatory))

(Newser) – A team of European astronomers, glimpsing back in time to when the universe was just a youngster, says it has detected the most distant and earliest quasar yet. Light from this brilliant, starlike object took nearly 13 billion years to reach Earth, meaning the quasar existed when the universe was only 770 million years old—a kid by cosmic standards. The discovery ranks as the brightest object ever found.

To scientists' surprise, the black hole powering this quasar was 2 billion times more massive than the sun. How it grew so bulky so early in the universe's history is a mystery. The new quasar—with the tongue-twisting name ULAS J1120+0641—was identified in images from a sky survey taken by the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope perched near the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii. The discovery, confirmed by other telescopes, is reported in tomorrow's issue of Nature.
 

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