Quasar: The Sun-Eating Brightest Object in the Universe

A quasar is a supermassive black hole that consumes huge amounts of matter and emits enormous amounts of energy. Scientists have recently discovered the brightest quasar ever observed, which is more than 500 trillion times brighter than the Sun and eats the mass of the Sun every day.

What is a quasar?

It is the extremely bright core of a distant galaxy, powered by a supermassive black hole. As the black hole accretes matter from its surroundings, it forms a hot disk of gas and dust that radiates across the electromagnetic spectrum. Quasars are among the most luminous objects in the universe, and can outshine entire galaxies.

How was the brightest quasar discovered?

The brightest quasar, officially named J0529-4351, was hiding in plain sight for decades. It was first detected in a sky survey in 1980, but was mistaken for a star because of its brightness. It was not until 2023 that researchers using the Australian National University (ANU) 2.3 Telescope identified it as a quasar. Follow-up observations with the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT) confirmed its nature and measured its properties.

How bright and massive is the brightest quasar?

The brightest quasar has a mass of 17 billion Suns, and consumes the equivalent of one Sun per day. It is so bright that it emits more than 500 trillion times the energy of the Sun, making it the most luminous object ever observed in space. Its accretion disk has a diameter of seven light-years, which is larger than any other known disk in the universe.

Why it is important?

The brightest quasar is important for several reasons. First, it provides insights into how supermassive black holes grow and evolve over cosmic time. Second, it helps us understand how quasars affect their host galaxies and their environments through feedback processes such as jets and winds. Third, it challenges our current models of galaxy formation and evolution, which predict that such bright quasars should be rare in the early universe.

What are the future plans

The researchers plan to study the brightest quasar further with GRAVITY+, an upgrade to the VLT’s interferometer, which will allow them to measure the mass of distant black holes with unprecedented accuracy. They also hope to find more examples of such extreme quasars in the future, using data from various surveys and telescopes.

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