Astronomers have discovered three distant quasars that will allow them to probe the conditions of the early Universe.

A team led by Bram Venemans at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany, discovered the active galactic nuclei using the European Southern Observatory's Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy Kilo-degree Infrared Galaxy (VIKING) survey. The findings bring the number of known quasars that are beyond the detection limit of visible-light cameras to four.

The authors say that studying the quasars, which are thought to be powered by supermassive black holes more than 1 billion times the mass of the Sun, will shed light on how massive galaxies and black holes formed less than 900 million years after the Big Bang.

Astrophys. J. 779, 24 (2013)