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Brightest Object in the Cosmos



Astronomers have identified what is believed to be the most luminous object in the universe, roughly 12 billion light-years away, according to a study released yesterday. The 7-light-year wide quasar, which is also powered by the fastest-growing black hole observed to date, is said to be 500 trillion times brighter than the sun.


Quasars—an abbreviation of "quasi-stellar radio source"—are a type of highly active, extremely bright galaxy core produced by the powerful effects of supermassive black holes (watch 101). Over 1 million have been observed in the universe, with the nearest roughly 600 million light-years away. 


The J0529-4351 quasar, first spotted in 1980, was initially misclassified as a star due to its extreme brightness and was only confirmed to be a quasar last year. The Australian-led team claims the quasar's black hole consumes the equivalent of 370 suns each year and has a mass roughly 18 billion times that of our sun. Zoom in on the quasar here.

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