Seeing to the edge of the Universe. An Amateur Astrinomer Images a distant Quasar!
Not too many 'amateur' astronomers are capable of seeing to the edge
of the Universe. When the idea first occurred to him, neither did
Dr. Christian Sasse.
Dr. Sasse, German-Canadian, Physicist-Engineer, keen astronomer and
all round good guy, stumbled onto this idea due to his acquaintance
with fellow Canadian, Paul Boltwood (works at MaximDL) who according
to Christian, “inspired me (without him knowing) to go even further
than his record for the faintest object.” So Dr. Sasse embarked on a
project that took much personal effort and over two years of
He commissioned the fabrication of a new star machine that he felt certain would allow us
'amateurs' to peer back in time, to galaxies far, far away. Actually...a certain quasar in Ursa
Major, powered by a supermassive black hole 3 billion times the mass of our Sun.
When J1148+5251 was first detected by Earthlings in 2003, it
was crowned as the oldest & most distant object ever observed
(now its a close 2nd). An ancient quasi stellar object with a
redshift of z=6.41 and thus around 13.7 billion light years from the
chair in which you are nowsitting. Its redshift is so large that it has
no 'visible' magnitude as such!
Wide angle field of View. Red portion is shown in negative image.
This monster roared into existence with brutal cosmic power only 800
million years after the universe began. Sending out infrared
luminosity over 22 trillion times brighter than our own mediocre
star. Forming a huge bubble of carbon monoxide molecules 30 million
light-years in diameter around its host galaxy.
This week Christian pointed the newly commissioned G17 Deep Red Telescope based at the GRAS-Astrocamp
facility in Spain, to an otherwise blank piece of sky. Sasse proceeded
tp capture a few hundred thousand very old photons on its CCD camera
during 12 hours of exposures (144x300 seconds). It should be noted, that
this object is not amplified gravitationally by lensing.
Christian explained, "The G17 telescope was designed to extend the
frontiers of amateur observing. The combination of a world-class
telescope with superbly collimated optics (17” Planewave) and an enhanced FLI
CCD with extended red sensitivity has made my dream come true. Now an
amateur can reach magnitudes far beyond 23, in fact one galaxy we
measured in this field is confirmed at MAG 26.9 in the visible, with
some objects as yet unconfirmed approaching 28!"
As far as we at GRAS know, after much research, Christian Sasse and G17 have shattered two world records for amateur astronomy; the most distant (13.7 Billion LY) and the faintest (MAG 26.9 galaxy) amateur observation ever achieved on a truly accessible, amateur sized telescope.
Christian would like to extend his heart felt thanks and appreciation to all those that played a role in this project.
Congratulations Dr Sasse for reaching towards the Edge of Everything.
Close Up - J1148+5251 Quasar in Ursa Major - 12hrs total exposure