A luminous quasar at a redshift of z=7.085

Daniel J. Mortlock, Stephen J. Warren, Bram P. Venemans, Mitesh Patel, Paul C. Hewett, Richard G. McMahon, Chris Simpson, Tom Theuns, Eduardo A. Gonzales-Solares, Andy Adamson, Simon Dye, Nigel C. Hambly, Paul Hirst, Mike J. Irwin, Ernst Kuiper, Andy Lawrence, Huub J. A. Rottgering

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The intergalactic medium was not completely reionized until approximately a billion years after the Big Bang, as revealed(1) by observations of quasars with redshifts of less than 6.5. It has been difficult to probe to higher redshifts, however, because quasars have historically been identified(2-4) in optical surveys, which are insensitive to sources at redshifts exceeding 6.5. Here we report observations of a quasar (ULASJ112001.48+064124.3) at a redshift of 7.085, which is 0.77 billion years after the Big Bang. ULASJ1120+0641 has a luminosity of 6.3 x 10(13)L(circle dot) and hosts a black hole with a mass of 2 x 10(9)M(circle dot) (where L-circle dot and M-circle dot are the luminosity and mass of the Sun). The measured radius of the ionized near zone around ULASJ1120+0641 is 1.9 megaparsecs, a factor of three smaller than is typical for quasars at redshifts between 6.0 and 6.4. The near-zone transmission profile is consistent with a Ly alpha d damping wing(5), suggesting that the neutral fraction of the intergalactic medium in front of ULASJ1120+0641 exceeded 0.1.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)616-619
Number of pages4
JournalNature
Volume474
Issue number7353
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2011

Keywords

  • Astronomy
  • Physics

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