One of the rarest extragalactic objects in the Universe is now no longer puzzling scientists’ work. Thanks to a new method of detecting the whereabouts of quasars, we’re closer to unveiling how supermassive black holes evolve.
Quasars play a pretty tough part in the Universe, being responsible for controlling the development of supermassive black holes. So, you can understand why finding them is so essential.
Here is what you need to know.
How to Find Quasars
A team of astrophysicists from the University of Bath came up with a new technique of detecting quasars experiencing extreme variations in luminosity.
Switching-look quasars can change quickly between high luminosity and low luminosity. That’s what the team want to find out why.
New method insights
Using the new technique, the team will be able to examine the causes of the luminosity variations and find how supermassive black holes evolve.
“These quasars and supermassive blackholes are extremely important for galaxy evolution – the more we learn about them, the more we understand how they influence the growth of galaxies,” explained Dr Carolin Villforth, an astrophysicist involved in the current research.
The Bath team utilized spectroscopic data to estimate the changes in minimal wavelength spectra. That allowed them to spot changing-look quasars never seen before.
The new method found four changing-look quasars millions of light-years from our planet. Previously, scientists spotted only two of these quasars in the same region.
Quasars 101: What Should You Know
Quasars are regions of spectacular luminosity at the core of the galaxy, supplied by a supermassive black hole. Currently, there is a supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way.
Quasars are born when a gaseous matter is pulled by gravitation forces towards a supermassive black hole. And when the matter gets closer to the black hole, an accretion disk forms, orbiting the black hole.
Finally, electromagnetic radiation flares up from the disk, producing the quasar’s luminosity.