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Sloan Digital Sky Survey Finds Most Distant Object Ever Observed

4-14-2000

Chicago, Ill.--The Sloan Digital Sky Survey astronomers report seeing the most distant object human beings had ever identified -- the farthest of the quasars--compact yet luminous objects thought to be powered by black holes as massive as a billion suns.

The new quasar breaks the distance record previously held by a galaxy discovered last year by Esther Hu and colleagues at the University of Hawaii and the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge, UK.

Donald Schneider, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State, is in charge of the quasar science of the Sloan Survey, and he has been using the Hobby-Eberly Telescope to help assemble the collection of distant quasars described in the release. Penn State is the originator and one of principal operating partners of the Hobby-Eberly Telescope, the largest optical telescope on the North American continent and one of the largest in the world.

Additional information about the discovery and the Sloan Digital Sky Survey are available on the World Wide Web at www.sdss.org or at http://www.science.psu.edu/alert/Schneider4-2000.htm.