Sometimes I'm dissatisfied with this little spinning puffball we're stuck on, but then I see that there's a black hole out there with a mass of two billion of our suns, powering an unfathomably large quasar. Luckily, it's very distant!
How distant? Far away enough that it's revealing facts about the way the universe sat immediately after the Bing Bang itself—the quasar light hitting us is a perfectly preserved image of itself 12.9 billion years ago. It's a remarkable find, because hitherto its discovery, astronomers weren't sure that quasars of that magnitude had existed in the infancy of the cosmos. "It is like finding a 6-foot-tall child in kindergarten," explains one University of Michigan astrophysicist. [Gemini Observatory via Science News]