Earliest ever Quasar discovered
The object, named ULAS J1120 0641, is the most distant quasar known and the findings may shed light on a hidden era of the early universe, the researchers said.
Quasars are incredibly bright sources of energy thought to be the hot centres of young galaxies swirling around supermassive black holes. They can emit thousands of times more radiation than our own galaxy, the Milky Way.
According to the scientists, the new quasar is 12.9 billion light years away, meaning its light began travelling across space when the universe was just 770 million years old, the Daily Mail reported.
Light rays from such distant objects are stretched by the expanding cosmos, making them redder. Astronomers use this `redshift` to estimate the distance of very far away objects.
ULAS J1120 0641, identified by the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope based at Hilo in Hawaii, is the first quasar discovered in the infrared part of the spectrum.
The next most distant quasar appeared 870 million years after the Big Bang which gave birth to the universe.
Studying ULAS J1120 0641 may help astronomers learn more about the reionisation era, a little-understood period when the first stars and galaxies were forming, said Dr Bram Venemans, of the European Southern Observatory in Germany, who was part of the team made the discovery.
"By peering deep into the reionisation era, this quasar provides a unique opportunity to explore a 100 million-year window in the history of the cosmos that was previously out of reach," said Dr Venemans.
Co-researcher Dr Daniel Mortlock from Imperial College London said: "Finding this object required a painstaking search, but it was worth the effort to be able to unravel some of the mysteries of the early universe."
The discovery was published in the journal Nature.