New type of black-hole quasar discovered
Like our Milky Way, every known large galaxy has at its center a supermassive black hole, some of which are surrounded by a super-bright disk of hot gas called a quasar—but now a research team that includes Penn State astronomers has discovered a surprising new class of quasars in distant galaxies that even the most current theories had not predicted.
"The gas in this new type of quasar is moving in two directions: some is moving toward Earth but most of it is moving at high velocities away from us, possibly toward the quasar’s black hole," said study co-author Niel Brandt, Distinguished Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Penn State University. "Just as you can use the Doppler shift for sound to tell if an airplane is moving away from you or toward you, we used the Doppler shift for light to tell whether the gas in these quasars is moving away from Earth or toward these distant black holes, which have a mass from millions to billions of times that of the Sun.” Brandt explained. Matter around these black holes forms a quasar disc that is bigger than Earth’s orbit around the Sun and hotter than the surface of the Sun. These quasars generate enough light to be seen across the observable universe.