4 November 2010
Quasars or ‘quasi-stellar-objects’ are so named because they appear as points of light in the night sky, and were originally mistaken for stars.
However, quasars are actually the compact cores of galaxies surrounding supermassive black holes. They only look small because they are so far away, up to 28 billion light years, making them among the most distant objects in the universe. Thanks to their incredible brightness, they can always be seen, in fact there is nothing more luminous in the entire universe than a quasar.
Thought to be powered by an accretion of material onto a supermassive black hole, some quasars have fantastically powerful jets of material that burst out from their cores at almost the speed of light. Relatively closer to home, is a chance that a quasar could form when our milky way galaxy collides with the andromeda galaxy in three to five billion years.
—Sarah Barker, MSc Science Communication