Q is for Quasar

| April 29, 2014

Quasars (/ˈkwzɑr/) or quasi-stellar radio sources are the most energetic and distant members of a class of objects called active galactic nuclei (AGN). Quasars are extremely luminous and were first identified as being high redshift sources of electromagnetic energy, including radio wavesand visible light, that appeared to be similar tostars, rather than extended sources similar togalaxies. Their spectra contain very broad emission lines, unlike any known from stars, hence the name “quasi-stellar”. Their luminosity can be 100 times greater than the Milky Way.[2]

While the nature of these objects was controversial until the early 1980s, there is now a scientific consensus that a quasar is a compact region in the center of a massive galaxy, that surrounds its central supermassive black hole.[3] Its size is 10–10,000 times the Schwarzschild radius of the black hole. The energy emitted by a quasar derives from mass falling onto the accretion disc around the black hole.

I don’t know very much about astronomy but I took one class on it during undergrad. For some reason quasars always stuck with me probably mostly just because of the cool name, but they also make me think about how crazy the universe is, and how we spend so much time thinking about earth and our own daily lives and there is so much going on throughout the universe that you can’t even wrap your head around it.