Hubble Space Telescope loses its most advanced camera


Orbiting 350 miles (560km) above Earth, Hubble was launched in 1990 and visited by space shuttle astronauts for repairs and upgrades five times.

Researchers at the Gemini Observatory in Hawaii have used data from the Hubble space telescope to find evidence of an ancient quasar in the void of space.

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

Quasars are found at the centre of galaxies - powered by supermassive black holes. It's created to capture high-resolution images in visible, ultraviolet and near-infrared wavelengths.

Despite its brightness Hubble was only able to spot the quasar with the help of strong gravitational lensing caused by a dim galaxy between the quasar and the Earth.

NASA called the quasar, which emits light equivalent to 600 trillion suns, "the brightest object ever seen at a time when the universe was less than one billion years old".

The Wide Field Camera 3, or WFC3, which was installed in 2009, reported an error on Tuesday and its operations were suspended. The detection provides a rare opportunity to study a zoomed-in image of how such black holes accompanied star formation in the very early universe and influenced the assembly of galaxies. However, the telescope will continue to perform science observations with its other three active instruments, while the Wide Field Camera 3 anomaly is investigated, the U.S. space agency said in a statement.

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"Eventually electronics break", said Brown. "[Two, ] all space systems have finite lifetimes and such issues are bound to happen from time to time".

Light from the quasar serendipitously passed near a galaxy between Earth and the source on its path to us, scientists found.

"Without this high level of magnification, it would make it impossible for us to see the galaxy", said team member Feige Wang of the University of California, Santa Barbara.

However, bringing the the camera back online will require some troubleshooting, an effort that could be complicated by the ongoing government shutdown.

"The flight operations folks are considered essential and we've been in talks on repairs", Brown said. NASA reportedly has formed an investigative team, mostly consisting of contractors and experts from its industry partners, to examine the technical troubles.

Several powerful ground-based telescopes and the Hubble Space Telescope pooled their observations of the object, now designated J043947.08+163415.7, to learn more about it.

The planet, named HD 21749b, orbits a bright, nearby dwarf star about 53 light years away, in the constellation Reticulum, and appears to have the longest orbital period of the three planets so far identified by TESS. "They are getting plenty of science on those".