working on the Sloan Digital Sky Survey project,
sponsored in part by the U of C, have discovered the most distant
object ever identified--a quasar some 27 billion light years from
Earth that will help scientists chart the birth and formation
of galaxies, explore structure on the largest scales, and better
understand black holes.
are compact, luminous objects powered by super-massive black holes.
They are not a distinct class of objects but rather a phase that
young galaxies go through when the black holes at their centers
pull in surrounding matter at a high rate. The newly discovered
quasar has a redshift of 5.8, which means that astronomers are
seeing light that left its source when the universe was in its
infancy, less than a billion years old.
real value of the newly discovered quasar--and some 1,000 others
identified by Sloan researchers--say scientists, is not their
far-off locations but the sample's size and quality. Past quasar
surveys have included a smaller, less uniform selection of objects.