Broken Hubble telescope camera may get reboot

Broken Hubble telescope camera may get reboot

WFC3 was installed on the telescope almost a decade ago during the space shuttle fleet's final servicing mission.

The news came as it emerged that Hubble has discovered the brightest quasar ever seen in the early universe, with the brightness of about 600 trillion suns.

The operations of the Hubble Space Telescope's most technologically advanced camera have been suspended after it encountered a hardware problem, NASA said.

"The reason this one was discovered was - a bit lucky actually - because the quasar is so bright and the lensing galaxy is very faint compared to all the other lensing galaxies we know", lead author and astronomer Xiaohui Fan, of the University of Arizona, told Live Science.

A quasar is the extremely bright nucleus of an active galaxy and its powerful glow is created by the incredible amounts of energy released by gas falling toward the supermassive black hole at its centre.

They believe the quasar can provide an insight into galaxies' birth, when the universe was about a billion years old.

The Hubble Wide Field Camera 3 was installed by spacewalking astronauts during Servicing Mission 4 in 2009. Luckily, the newly studied quasar and galaxy were just bright enough to be flagged as potential distant-universe objects.

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"This is when everyone gets a reminder about two crucial aspects of space exploration: 1) complex systems like @NASAHubble only work due to a dedicated team of fantastic experts; 2) all space systems have finite life-times and such issues are bound to happen from time to time".

Even though you might think it would be impossible to miss, the Hubble Space Telescope was only able to spot it thanks to the recently harnessed ability to observe gravitational lensing.

"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.

"It gives us a clue on how to search for "phantom quasars" - sources that are out there, but can not be really detected yet". NASA reportedly has formed an investigative team, mostly consisting of contractors and experts from its industry partners, to examine the technical troubles. The telescope has one other camera and two spectrographs that remain operational and will keep collecting data, NASA said in an announcement.

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.

The old, trusty telescope also suffered a setback in early October previous year, when one of its gyroscopes span out of control.

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