Hubble Space Telescope's Camera Has Shut Down Due to a Hardware Issue

Tech support in space: Broken Hubble telescope camera may get a reboot

Tech support in space: Broken Hubble telescope camera may get a reboot

The light from quasar J0439+1634, about 12.8 billion light-years away, bends as it passes by a galaxy roughly six billion light-years away.

Hubble is the first major optical telescope to be placed in space, providing an unobstructed view into the universe.

"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.

"We would like to have Hubble back up and working as quickly as possible, and NASA is making that happen", even with the partial government shutdown, she added.

Astronomers used data from the Nasa/European Space Agency's telescope to find the ancient quasar - the extremely bright nucleus of an active galaxy created by energy released by gas falling towards the supermassive black hole at its centre.

All galaxies have a supermassive black hole at their cores.

Credit: NASA, ESA, Xiaohui Fan (University of Arizona) The spectroscopic data also allowed the researchers to estimate the mass of the quasar's central supermassive black hole; they calculated it at around 700 million times that of the sun.

"At 1723 UTC on Jan 8, the Wide Field Camera 3 on the Hubble Space Telescope suspended operations due to a hardware problem", according to a short statement.

This compares to the Milky Way which produces about one new star every year.

He added: 'That's something we have been looking for a long time.

Co-author Fabian Walter, of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany, said it was a prime candidate for further investigation.

"We don't expect to find many quasars brighter than that in the whole observable universe".

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.

Astronomers also hope to use the Atacama Large Millimetre/Submillimetre Array and Nasa/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope, which wil be launched in 2021, to look at the supermassive black hole and measure the influence of its gravity on the surrounding gas and star formation.