Astronomers have solved the mystery of how quasars — the brightest and most powerful objects in the universe — ignite.
Located at the centers of some galaxies, these very bright objects are a trillion times brighter than the sun, and are said to nasa.
Even though quasars were first discovered 60 years ago, they remain a mystery because it’s not clear how such intense activity arises.
Now, research suggests it was the result of galaxy mergers.
Scientists led by the Universities of Sheffield and Hertfordshire have discovered what they call “the presence of twisted structures” in galaxies containing quasars.
The researchers analyzed data from the Isaac Newton Telescope in La Palma, one of the Canary Islands.
The team compared observations of 48 quasars and their host galaxies with images of more than 100 non-quasar galaxies.
The centers of most galaxies are thought to be supermassive black holes — millions of times denser than our sun.
These galaxies also contain vast amounts of gas that black holes cannot reach.
According to the researchers, when galaxies collide, the gas is driven towards the black hole, where it is consumed, releasing “a huge amount of energy in the form of radiation, resulting in the typical quasar brightness”.
They concluded that galaxies with quasars are about three times more likely to interact or collide with other galaxies.
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Professor Clive Tadhunt, from the University of Sheffield, said: “Quasars are one of the most extreme phenomena in the universe and what we are seeing is likely to represent the future of our own Milky Way galaxy colliding with Andromeda. 50 billion years.
“It’s exciting to watch these events and ultimately understand why they happen — but thankfully, Earth won’t be anywhere near one of these apocalyptic events for quite some time.”
Dr Jonny Pearce, from the University of Hertfordshire, said: “This is an area that scientists around the world are eager to learn more about.
“One of the main scientific motivations for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is to study the earliest galaxies in the universe, and the Webb Space Telescope has been able to detect light from even the most distant quasars emitted nearly 13 billion years ago.
“Quasars play a key role in our understanding of the history of the universe and the future of our galaxy.”
The findings were published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.