- Press Release Distribution

Most distant quasar with powerful radio jets discovered

Most distant quasar with powerful radio jets discovered
( With the help of the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (ESO's VLT), astronomers have discovered and studied in detail the most distant source of radio emission known to date. The source is a "radio-loud" quasar -- a bright object with powerful jets emitting at radio wavelengths -- that is so far away its light has taken 13 billion years to reach us. The discovery could provide important clues to help astronomers understand the early Universe.

Quasars are very bright objects that lie at the centre of some galaxies and are powered by supermassive black holes. As the black hole consumes the surrounding gas, energy is released, allowing astronomers to spot them even when they are very far away.

The newly discovered quasar, nicknamed P172+18, is so distant that light from it has travelled for about 13 billion years to reach us: we see it as it was when the Universe was just around 780 million years old. While more distant quasars have been discovered, this is the first time astronomers have been able to identify the telltale signatures of radio jets in a quasar this early on in the history of the Universe. Only about 10% of quasars -- which astronomers classify as "radio-loud" -- have jets, which shine brightly at radio frequencies [1].

P172+18 is powered by a black hole about 300 million times more massive than our Sun that is consuming gas at a stunning rate. "The black hole is eating up matter very rapidly, growing in mass at one of the highest rates ever observed," explains astronomer Chiara Mazzucchelli, Fellow at ESO in Chile, who led the discovery together with Eduardo Bañados of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany.

The astronomers think that there's a link between the rapid growth of supermassive black holes and the powerful radio jets spotted in quasars like P172+18. The jets are thought to be capable of disturbing the gas around the black hole, increasing the rate at which gas falls in. Therefore, studying radio-loud quasars can provide important insights into how black holes in the early Universe grew to their supermassive sizes so quickly after the Big Bang.

"I find it very exciting to discover 'new' black holes for the first time, and to provide one more building block to understand the primordial Universe, where we come from, and ultimately ourselves," says Mazzucchelli.

P172+18 was first recognised as a far-away quasar, after having been previously identified as a radio source, at the Magellan Telescope at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile by Bañados and Mazzucchelli. "As soon as we got the data, we inspected it by eye, and we knew immediately that we had discovered the most distant radio-loud quasar known so far," says Bañados.

However, owing to a short observation time, the team did not have enough data to study the object in detail. A flurry of observations with other telescopes followed, including with the X-shooter instrument on ESO's VLT, which allowed them to dig deeper into the characteristics of this quasar, including determining key properties such as the mass of the black hole and how fast it's eating up matter from its surroundings. Other telescopes that contributed to the study include the National Radio Astronomy Observatory's Very Large Array and the Keck Telescope in the US.

While the team are excited about their discovery, to appear in The Astrophysical Journal, they believe this radio-loud quasar could be the first of many to be found, perhaps at even larger cosmological distances. "This discovery makes me optimistic and I believe -- and hope -- that the distance record will be broken soon," says Bañados.

Observations with facilities such as ALMA, in which ESO is a partner, and with ESO's upcoming Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) could help uncover and study more of these early-Universe objects in detail.



[1] Radio waves that are used in astronomy have frequencies between about 300 MHz and 300 GHz.

More information

This research is presented in the paper "The discovery of a highly accreting, radio-loud quasar at z=6.82" to appear in The Astrophysical Journal.

The team is composed of Eduardo Bañados (Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie [MPIA], Germany, and The Observatories of the Carnegie Institution for Science, USA), Chiara Mazzucchelli (European Southern Observatory, Chile), Emmanuel Momjian (National Radio Astronomy Observatory [NRAO], USA), Anna-Christina Eilers (MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research, USA), Feige Wang (Steward Observatory, University of Arizona, USA), Jan-Torge Schindler (MPIA), Thomas Connor (Jet Propulsion Laboratory [JPL], California Institute of Technology, USA), Irham Taufik Andika (MPIA and International Max Planck Research School for Astronomy & Cosmic Physics at the University of Heidelberg, Germany), Aaron J. Barth (Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of California, Irvine, USA), Chris Carilli (NRAO and Astrophysics Group, Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge, UK), Frederick Davies (MPIA), Roberto Decarli (INAF Bologna -- Osservatorio di Astrofisica e Scienza dello Spazio, Italy), Xiaohui Fan (Steward Observatory, University of Arizona, USA), Emanuele Paolo Farina (Max-Planck-Institut für Astrophysik, Germany), Joseph F. Hennawi (Department of Physics, Broida Hall, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA), Antonio Pensabene (Dipartimento di Fisica e Astronomia, Alma Mater Studiorum, Universita di Bologna, Italy and INAF Bologna), Daniel Stern (JPL), Bram P. Venemans (MPIA), Lukas Wenzl (Department of Astronomy, Cornell University, USA and MPIA) and Jinyi Yang (Steward Observatory, University of Arizona, USA).

ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world's most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It has 16 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile and with Australia as a Strategic Partner. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope and its world-leading Very Large Telescope Interferometer as well as two survey telescopes, VISTA working in the infrared and the visible-light VLT Survey Telescope. Also at Paranal ESO will host and operate the Cherenkov Telescope Array South, the world's largest and most sensitive gamma-ray observatory. ESO is also a major partner in two facilities on Chajnantor, APEX and ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal, ESO is building the 39-metre Extremely Large Telescope, the ELT, which will become "the world's biggest eye on the sky".


* Research paper - * Photos of the VLT - * More information about the ELT - * For scientists: got a story? Pitch your research -


Chiara Mazzucchelli
European Southern Observatory
Vitacura, Chile

Eduardo Bañados
Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie
Heidelberg, Germany

Bárbara Ferreira
ESO Public Information Officer
Garching bei München, Germany
Cell: +49 151 241 664 00

[Attachments] See images for this press release:
Most distant quasar with powerful radio jets discovered


Most distant cosmic jet providing clues about early universe

Astronomers using the National Science Foundation's Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) and Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) have found and studied the most distant cosmic jet discovered so far -- a jet of material propelled to nearly the speed of light by the supermassive black hole in a quasar some 13 billion light-years from Earth. The quasar is seen as it was when the universe was only 780 million years old, and is providing scientists with valuable information about how galaxies evolved and supermassive black holes grew when the universe was that young. The studies indicate that the quasar -- a galaxy harboring a black hole 300 million times more massive than the Sun -- has a jet of fast-moving particles only about 1,000 years ...

Strict environmental laws 'push' firms to pollute elsewhere

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Multinational companies headquartered in countries with tougher environmental policies tend to locate their polluting factories in countries with more lax regulations, a new study finds. While countries may hope their regulations will reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, these results show that these policies can lead to "carbon leakage" to other nations, said Itzhak Ben-David, co-author of the study and professor of finance at The Ohio State University's Fisher College of Business. "Firms decide strategically where to locate their production based ...

Reduced heat leakage improves wearable health device

Reduced heat leakage improves wearable health device
North Carolina State University engineers continue to improve the efficiency of a flexible device worn on the wrist that harvests heat energy from the human body to monitor health. In a paper published in npj Flexible Electronics, the NC State researchers report significant enhancements in preventing heat leakage in the flexible body heat harvester they first reported in 2017 and updated in 2020. The harvesters use heat energy from the human body to power wearable technologies - think of smart watches that measure your heart rate, blood oxygen, glucose and other health parameters - that never need to have their batteries recharged. The technology relies on the same principles ...

Allelica's polygenic risk score data published in Circulation

Rome, Italy, March 8, 2021 - Allelica, a leading genomics software company specialising in developing polygenic risk scores (PRS) for personalised medicine, today announced publication of a study in Circulation (Vol. 143, Issue 10) showing that the effect of LDL cholesterol on a person's risk of having a heart attack depends on their genes. Using Allelica's proprietary PRS analysis software, the data showed that combining information on an individual's genetic risk of heart attack with their LDL level helps determine those at most risk from heart attack, including those potentially in need of treatment with statins or PCSK9 inhibitors. The PRS was also able to identify individuals eligible for therapeutic intervention based on current ...

Irrigation management key for bioenergy production to mitigate climate change

To avoid a substantial increase in water scarcity, biomass plantations for energy production need sustainable water management, a new study shows. Bioenergy is frequently considered one of the options to reduce greenhouse gases for achieving the Paris climate goals, especially if combined with capturing the CO2 from biomass power plants and storing it underground. Yet growing large-scale bioenergy plantations worldwide does not just require land, but also considerable amounts of freshwater for irrigation - which can be at odds with respecting Earth's ...

Diphtheria risks becoming major global threat again as it evolves antimicrobial resistance

Diphtheria - a relatively easily-preventable infection - is evolving to become resistant to a number of classes of antibiotics and in future could lead to vaccine escape, warn an international team of researchers from the UK and India. The researchers, led by scientists at the University of Cambridge, say that the impact of COVID-19 on diphtheria vaccination schedules, coupled with a rise in the number of infections, risk the disease once more becoming a major global threat. Diphtheria is a highly contagious infection that can affect the nose and throat, and sometimes the skin. If left untreated it can prove fatal. In the UK and other high-income countries, babies are vaccinated against ...

Cardiac arrest from opioid overdose has unique features affecting prevention and treatment

DALLAS, March 8, 2021 -- Out-of-hospital cardiac arrests triggered by opioid overdose are a significant cause of death among adults 25 to 64, according to a scientific statement from the American Heart Association, the nation's largest voluntary health organization focused on heart and brain health for all. The statement published today in the Association's flagship journal Circulation. In the U.S., opioid use disorder affects an estimated 2 million people each year and costs more than $78 billion in health care expenses. The opioid epidemic, ...

Stroke affecting the eye requires immediate treatment, can signal future vascular events

DALLAS, March 8, 2021 - While most people think of strokes affecting the brain, they can also affect the eye. Central retinal artery occlusion (CRAO) is a rare form of acute ischemic stroke that occurs when blood flow is blocked to the main artery of the eye. It typically causes painless, immediate vision loss in the impacted eye, with fewer than 20% of people regaining functional vision in that eye. Today, the American Heart Association published a new scientific statement, "Management of Central Retinal Artery Occlusion," in Stroke, an American Heart Association ...

Immune cells in cerebrospinal fluid predict response to immunotherapy

Immune cells in cerebrospinal fluid predict response to immunotherapy
The analysis of immune cells infiltrating cerebrospinal fluid enables the characterization of the tumor microenvironment in brain metastases. Findings reported today in Nature Communications* confirm that these cells recapitulate the characteristics of those detected in brain metastases, and could act as novel and non-invasive biomarkers to predict patient responsiveness to immune-based therapies. Results from a study led by Joan Seoane, Director of Preclinical and Translational Research co-program at VHIO and ICREA Professor, show that immune cells accessing cerebrospinal fluid faithfully recapitulate the characteristics of cells identified in brain metastasis, and could therefore constitute novel ...

Virtual avatar coaching with community context for adult-child dyads

Virtual avatar coaching with community context for adult-child dyads
Philadelphia, March 8, 2021 - Virtual reality avatar-based coaching shows promise to increase access to and extend the reach of nutrition education programs to children at risk for obesity, according to a new study in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, published by Elsevier. Researchers introduced 15 adult-child dyads to a virtual avatar-based coaching program that incorporated age-specific information on growth; physical, social, and emotional development; healthy lifestyles; common nutrition concerns; and interview questions around eating behaviors and food resources and counseling. "We developed a virtual reality avatar computer program ...


Making table tennis accessible for blind players #Acoustics23

Twice daily electrical stimulation may boost mental processes in Alzheimer’s disease

Young age at first menstrual cycle linked to heightened diabetes risk in mid-life

State abortion access key factor in future US doctors’ training (residency) choices

Tobacco related annual medical spend of US Minorities who smoke double that of White peers

Singing in the rain: Why the bundengan sounds better wet #Acoustics23

Limitations of asteroid crater lakes as climate archives

AAAS announces addition of Biomaterials Research to Science Partner Journal program

Picking up good vibrations: The surprising physics of the didjeridu #Acoustics23

Bacteria's mucus maneuvers: Study reveals how snot facilitates infection

Shuqing Xu receives ERC Consolidator Grant for his research on the evolution in ecological communities in response to climate change

Study of sourdough starter microbiomes to boost bread quality and safety

UT receives National Institute of Justice awards for forensics research

Newly identified biomarkers may detect early cognitive decline via blood test

Researchers predict climate change-driven reduction in beneficial plant microbes

Addicted to your phone? New tool identifies overuse of digital media

International consensus report on gaps and opportunities for the clinical translation of precision diabetes medicine

Depression, constipation, and urinary tract infections may precede MS diagnosis

Chemists create organic molecules in a rainbow of colors

NCCN summit navigates solutions for financial and other cancer-related hardships

Incarcerated women punished at higher rates for minor infractions than men, UTEP study shows

Conference on microplastics in water: characterization, cure and prevention

Dorothee Dormann receives an ERC Consolidator Grant to support her research into neurodegenerative diseases

Reducing the energy consumption of software: Sebastian Erdweg receives ERC Consolidator Grant

Study finds plant nurseries are exacerbating the climate-driven spread of 80% of invasive species

Jefferson Lab site grows with addition of Applied Research Center

Texas A&M receives $1.8 million NIH grant to support bone health in people with down syndrome

Membrane raft redox signaling contributes to visfatin-induced inflammation and kidney damage

New study highlights COVID-19’s adaptive strategy for infection

Type 1 diabetes: B cell-derived natural antibodies suppress autoimmune pathogenesis

[] Most distant quasar with powerful radio jets discovered