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Giant halos spotted around distant quasars


Posted on Wednesday, 26 October, 2016 | Comment icon 6 comments

A 3D model of a quasar halo. Image Credit: YouTube / European Southern Observatory
The discovery has the potential to challenge what we currently know of how early galaxies formed.
Quasars are highly luminous, energetic and distant active galaxies containing supermassive black holes which draw in and consume large quantities of gas and materials at a very high rate.

Previously only around a tenth of these objects were believed to be surrounded by a glowing halo, but now new observations by an international team of astronomers using the Muse instrument on the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile have revealed that all quasars may in fact have them.

The study, which was led by a group at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, aimed to find out more about gas clouds around distant active galaxies in the early universe.

The fact that every quasar the team observed seemed to have a halo around it could suggest that there is still a great deal we do not yet understand about how these galaxies originally formed.

"It is still too early to say if this is due to our new observational technique or if there is something peculiar about the quasars in our sample," said lead author Elena Borisova.

"So there is still a lot to learn; we are just at the beginning of a new era of discoveries."


Source: Wired.co.uk | Comments (6)

Tags: Quasar, Galaxy

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by EBE Hybrid on 26 October, 2016, 19:49
When you consider that the halo surrounding the Quasar is formed by gas drawn in from the 'interstellar medium' (the space between galaxies), that has been illuminated by the energy of the Quasar, you have you wonder just how much stuff exists in the vacuum of space? not much of a vacuum really!
Comment icon #2 Posted by Codenwarra on 26 October, 2016, 20:00
Every time new or vastly improved scientific instruments or methods are developed, there is an increase in knowledge. Giant telescopes and even modest ones are fitted with charge coupled sensors, 100 or more times more sensitive than photographic plates. They are picking up things that were only suspected or entirely new.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Harte on 26 October, 2016, 21:45
Considering that most quasars are billions of light years away, it is understandable that the universe would have a higher density (more gaseous matter available,) since its volume was smaller then. Harte
Comment icon #4 Posted by paperdyer on 27 October, 2016, 16:21
Did you checkout the 3D vid? The vid is very cool. It looks at one point like the Quasar is sitting of a bus holding a pole. Pretty "little" guy. Hopefully we'll learn even more from this new observation.
Comment icon #5 Posted by grimsituation6 on 28 October, 2016, 0:42
And this makes my life easier how? Errr, nerds dont you understand? The money spent looking into emptiness could be spent to feed a couple million hungry kids, seriously you are literally spending billions to look at nothing. I mean the actual definition of nothing.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Thorvir Hrothgaard on 28 October, 2016, 0:56
So much for learning and better educating ourselves I guess....


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