Hubble Space Telescope Finds 11-billion-year-old Galaxy Light Hidden in a Quasar’s Glare

Astronomers used the Hubble Space Telescope to spot an 11-billion-year-old galaxy light hidden in a quasar’s glare. While making the discovery, the researchers deployed a tricky means of watching the light absorbed instead of observing the light emitted by the galaxy. On Earth, we notice light bulb based on the light it emits. Astronomers deploy similar techniques in observing galaxies with the light emitted by their stars.

In general, the Galaxy often puts out light waves across every electromagnetic spectrum. Hence, telescopes observing the galaxy can notice different wavelengths of light to create the entire picture of the cosmic object. However, in a situation where a galaxy is in the same line of sight as another, astronomers deploy other means to conduct their observations.

For astronomers to carefully take advantage of this technique, they must rely on the background source which is the quasars. Note that quasars produce extremely bright galactic often powered by supermassive black holes ejecting jets of radiation and matter as they consume materials surrounding their event horizon.

“To find absorbing galaxies, we first look for quasars that are particularly red,” Johan Fynbo, an astronomer at the Cosmic Dawn Center, said in a statement. “Because star dust tends to absorb the blue light but not the red, if there is a dusty galaxy in the foreground, the quasar will be reddened.”

Fynbo and his colleagues have discovered numerous absorbing galaxies using the method of parsing light from reddened quasars. However, after each discovery, the team of astronomers experiences more difficult tasks of hunting down light emitted by the absorbing galaxy.

Why This Discovery of 11-Billion-Galaxy Light Absorption is one of its kind

Fynbo and his team are fascinated with their most recent discovery because of the uniqueness of the galaxy. Quasars behind this galaxy appear to be disrupting the view of astronomers because of their brightness. This implies that the light emitted by the quasars is so bright that they overshadow the combined light of the entire star within this galaxy. Hence, the team of researchers struggles to figure out the exact light that belongs to the recently discovered 11-billion-year-old galaxy.

The astronomers observed the galaxy in its original state at about 11 billion years ago. Keep in mind that our 13.8-billion-year-old universe was only about 3 billion years old when this galaxy was formed. Since the old galaxy is absorbing more light than other galaxies discovered with the same similarities, astronomers conclude that the galaxy might be more mature than our Milky Way Galaxy.

“The features that we found in the missing light tell us something about the dust in the foreground galaxy,” Lise Christensen, a member of the discovery team and an astronomer at the Cosmic Dawn Center, said in the statement. “In fact, the dust seems to resemble the dust that we see locally in the Milky Way and one of our neighboring galaxies.”

The researchers also discovered that the galaxy has a bright neighbor. Astronomers believe that the two galaxies are producing stars at an intense rate and may be gravitationally bound together. Scientists concluded that the galaxy may likely form a galaxy group similar to the local group that accommodates our home galaxy.

Next Move By The Researchers

The team of researchers revealed that they are not yet done with studying this galaxy. They hope to continue their observation with other powerful instruments like the Nordic Optical Telescope located at La Palma. This sophisticated telescope will help in searching for other galaxy groups to learn more about absorbing galaxy that emits their own light.

“This makes the galaxies even more interesting to study,” the astronomer finalized.

Fynbo and his colleagues’ research has been accepted for publication in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics. You can check out the pre-peer review vision of this publication on the research repository arXiv.


Astronomers recently discovered an 11-billion-year-old galaxy light absorption hidden in a quasar’s glare using the Hubble Space Telescope. The team of researchers deployed a tricky technique to come up with this discovery. You can check out some of these telescopes that will enable you to observe the Universe from your location.

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