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Astronomers discover quasar from universe’s early years

This artist's conception provided by the European Southern Observatory shows ESO’s Very Large Telescope and a host of other telescopes' discovery of the most distant quasar found to date. This brilliant beacon, powered by a black hole with a mass two billion times that of the Sun, is by far the brightest object yet discovered in the early Universe. (AP Photo/European Southern Observatory).
This artist's conception provided by the European Southern Observatory shows ESO’s Very Large Telescope and a host of other telescopes' discovery of the most distant quasar found to date. This brilliant beacon, powered by a black hole with a mass two billion times that of the Sun, is by far the brightest object yet discovered in the early Universe. (AP Photo/European Southern Observatory).

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – A team of European astronomers says it has discovered the most distant and earliest quasar yet.

Quasars are bright, starlike objects powered by giant black holes.

Scientists reporting the find in Thursday’s issue of the journal Nature say light from this quasar took nearly 13 billion years to reach Earth, meaning it existed when the universe was only 770 million years old.

The quasar was identified in images from a sky survey taken by the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope perched near the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii. It was then confirmed by other telescopes.

The previous record holder was a quasar that dated to when the universe was 870 million years old.

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Nature journal: http://www.nature.com/nature

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