The Hubble Telescope has discovered the brightest ancient quasar ever seen – emitting as much light as about 600 trillion suns.

Data from the NASA/European Space Agency Hubble Space Telescope has revealed the early universe quasar, which could provide a useful insight into the birth of galaxies.

A quasar is the nucleus of an active galaxy, generating a mind-bendingly powerful glow from the energy released by gas falling toward the supermassive black hole at its centre.

The newly-discovered quasar - known to scientists as J043947.08+163415.7 - is so old that the light now being picked up on Earth was emitted when the Universe was only about a billion years old.

Its brightness is equivalent to about 600 trillion suns, and is powered by a supermassive black hole several hundred million times as massive as our Sun.

The quasar is estimated to be producing up to 10,000 stars per year – much more active than the Milky Way which produces about one new star every year.

Researcher Fabian Walter from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany says it is a great target for further investigation.

“Its properties and its distance make it a prime candidate to investigate the evolution of distant quasars and the role supermassive black holes in their centres had on star formation,” he said.

More information and official reports are accessible here.