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Wednesday, June 10, 1998 Published at 18:45 GMT 19:45 UK


Brightest object in the universe

It's really the brightest object ever found in space

It is not much to look at but the tiny dot in the centre of the image may be the brightest thing yet found in the cosmos. Our science correspondent David Whitehouse reports.

It's an object called a quasar and it is on the other side of the universe.

Although it looks like an undistinguished point of light when its vast distance is taken into account it is estimated to be 5 million billion times brighter than our own sun.

Quasars are some of the most energetic objects observed in the cosmos. They are believed to be black holes into which matter is falling giving off great energy.

The radiation from the infall of matter can exceed all that from the galaxy's normal stars.

The new object was detected by the Isaac Newton telescope at La Palma, in the Canary Islands.

It is scheduled to be observed by the Hubble Space Telescope later this year.

The quasar is estimated to be 11 billion light years from Earth. The light astronomers are detecting from it set off when the universe was only about 10% of its present age.

The research is published in the journal, Nature.

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