SUPPORT AND COLLABORATORS: The European Research Council funded this research in part. This paper includes data gathered with Carnegie’s 6.5-meter Magellan telescopes located at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile. The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc. The Pan-STARRS1 (PS1) surveys and the PS1 public science archive have been made possible through contributions by the Institute for Astronomy; University of Hawaii; Pan-STARRS Project Office; Max-Planck Society and its participating institutes; Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg; Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, Garching; Johns Hopkins University; Durham University; University of Edinburgh; Queen’s University Belfast; Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics; Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network Inc.; National Central University of Taiwan; Space Telescope Science Institute; NAS; National Science Foundation; University of Maryland; Eötvös Loránd University; Los Alamos National Laboratory; and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. Carnegie’s Eduardo Bañados led a team that found a quasar with the brightest radio emission ever observed in the early universe spewing out a jet of extremely fast-moving material. Bañados’ discovery was followed up by Emmanuel Momjian of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, which allowed the team to see with unprecedented detail the jet shooting out of a quasar that formed within the universe’s first billion years. Quasars contain enormous black holes accreting matter at the centers of massive galaxies. The findings, published in two papers in The Astrophysical Journal, will allow astronomers to better probe the young universe during an important period of transition to its current state. This newly discovered quasar, called PSO J352.4034–15.3373, is one of a rare breed that doesn’t just swallow matter into the black hole; it also emits a jet of plasma traveling at speeds approaching that of light. This jet makes it extremely bright in the frequencies detected by radio telescopes. Although quasars were identified more than 50 years ago by their strong radio emissions, we now know that only about 10% of them are strong radio emitters. What’s more, quasars contain enormous black holes accreting matter at the centers of massive galaxies of the universe, taking 13.7 billion years to reach Earth. P352-15 is the first quasar with clear evidence of radio jets seen within the first billion years of the universe. “There is a dearth of known strong radio emitters from the universe’s youth, and this is the brightest radio quasar at that epoch by an order of magnitude,” Bañados said. “This is the most detailed image yet of such a bright galaxy at this great distance,” Momjian added. The Big Bang started the universe as a hot soup of extremely energetic particles that were rapidly expanding. As the particles expanded, they cooled and coalesced into neutral hydrogen gas, which left the universe dark, without any luminous sources, until gravity condensed matter into the first stars and galaxies. About 800 million years after the Big Bang, the energy released by these first galaxies caused neutral hydrogen to get excited and lose an electron, or ionize, a state that the gas has remained in since that time. It’s highly unusual to find radio jet- emitting quasars such as this one from the period just after the universe’s lights came back on. “The jet from this quasar could serve as an important calibration tool to help future projects penetrate the dark ages and perhaps reveal how the earliest galaxies came into being,” Bañados concluded.  Plasma-Spewing Quasar Unveils Young Universe An artist’s conception of a radio jet spewing out fast-moving material from the newly discovered quasar. Image courtesy Robin Dienel, Carnegie Institution for Science Afterglow Light Pattern 400,000 yrs. Dark Ages Development of Galaxies, Planets, etc. 1st Stars about 400 million yrs. 13.7 Billion Years Big Bang Expansion Dark Energy Accelerated Expansion Inflation Quantum Fluctuations (Below) Eduardo Bañados is the Carnegie- Princeton Fellow at the Observatories. Image courtesy Cindy Hunt The universe formed some 13.7 billion years ago with the Big Bang. The team found a plasma-spewing quasar with the brightest radio emission ever observed, dating to 13 billion years ago when the universe was in its infancy. Image courtesy NASA/WMAP Science Team 15