August 4th, 2007

galaxy M51

Astro-image of the day: Galactic collisions form quasars

This image shows the new theory of how quasars form (top) and the heart of a quasar (bottom). Astronomers in Hawaii found that quasars burst into life when a giant galaxy containing a supermassive black hole collides with a gas-rich galaxy that feeds the black hole uncontaminated hydrogen and helium, which ignites and explodes and whirls in a vortex around the black hole kind of like an unstable star a billion times larger than any regular star:

Click the image to see the story.

Quasars are radio powerhouses and visually brighter than any galaxy. We don't see any new ones forming, likely because the vast quantities of free hydrogen and helium get sucked up over time and used in star- and planet-formation. Looks like Wikipedia needs to be updated now.

Cool stuff, Maynard.