Nasa’s Hubble Telescope BREAKS after it spots record-breaking quasar with brightness of 600TRILLION suns

THE HUBBLE Space Telescope is running without its best camera after a mysterious fault on the space probe forced an emergency shut down.

Nasa said the camera stopped working on Tuesday but three of the orbiting gadget’s instruments are still up and running as usual.

Quasar
PA:Press Association

Hubble spotted a quasar that first began giving off light when the universe was just a billion years old (artist’s impression)[/caption]

The agency broke the news shortly after it revealed Hubble had spotted the brightest quasar ever discovered, giving off the same light as 600trillion suns.

The quasar – a bright glow triggered when an enormous galaxy begins eating itself – is so old that it first began emitting light around 12 billion years ago.

That light has travelled so far it is only reaching Earth now, and scientists hope the find will shed light on the birth of galaxies.

Hubble’s camera mishap hit its wide-field camera, which was installed by spacewalking astronauts in 2009.

Hubble's view
PA:Press Association

The quasar (orange) became visible when a closer, foreground galaxy (blue) passed close to it in Hubble’s field. This magnified the light given off by the quasar[/caption]

In its near-decade of service it has captured stunning snaps of stars and ancient galaxies, as well as taking part in key sky surveys.

The equipment has backup electronics that can be called upon if necessary, according to Nasa.

The agency needn’t be too worried, as the wide-field camera was not responsible for the latest Quasar discovery.

Catalogued as J043947.08+163415.7, the object is so old the light being received from it started its journey when the universe was only about a billion years old.

Hubble
Nasa/Esa

The Hubble Space Telescope has orbited the Earth since 1990[/caption]

What is the Hubble Space Telescope?

Here's what you need to know…

  • The Hubble Space Telescope is a telescope that captures images while in space
  • It was launched into a low-Earth orbit in 1990 and is still fully operational
  • The advantage of Hubble is that it takes photos from outside of Earth’s atmosphere
  • This means distortion from the atmosphere is removed, allowing for more accurate image capture
  • Nasa’s Hubble has captured some of most detailed images of space ever recorded
  • The Hubble telescope was also able to accurately determine the rate at which the universe was expanding
  • Hubble is also the only telescope that was designed to be serviced by astronauts in space
  • Five different missions have been launched to repair, upgrade or replace parts of the Hubble telescope
  • It’s believed that the Hubble telescope could continue working until 2040
  • But its successor – the James Webb Space Telescope – is already set for launch in March 2021

It became visible when a closer, foreground galaxy passed close to it in Hubble’s field, magnifying the light given off by the quasar.

The galaxy is belching out some 10,000 stars a year and its supermassive black hole is sucking in matter at an extremely high rate, scientists said.

In comparison, the Milky Way produces about one new star a year.

Lead author Xiaohui Fan, from the University of Arizona, said he did not expect to find many quasars brighter than this in the entire universe.

“That’s something we have been looking for a long time,” he said.

“We don’t expect to find many quasars brighter than that in the whole observable universe.”

Co-author Fabian Walter, of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany, suggested the quasar should be studied further.

He added: “Its properties and its distance make it a prime candidate to investigate the evolution of distant quasars and the role supermassive black holes in their centres had on star formation.”


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