Quasars are among the oldest – and brightest – objects in the observable universe.

But because these objects are located at the farthest reaches of the universe, scientists have seen precious few.

But on Monday, astronomers from the Carnegie Institution for Science doubled that number. Using high-powered telescopes, they discovered 60 new quasars, each more than 12 billion years old. The team’s research, which could yield new insight about how the universe emerged from its “dark ages,” will be published in the next edition of the Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series.

“The formation and evolution of the earliest light sources and structures in the universe is one of the greatest mysteries in astronomy,” lead author Eduardo Bañados, a research fellow at the Carnegie Institution, said in a statement. “Very bright quasars such as the 63 discovered in this study are the best tools for helping us probe the early universe. But until now, conclusive results have been limited by the very small sample size of ancient quasars.”

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