Home > Astronomy, Astrophysics, Black Holes, General Astronomy, Quasars > 3-D Observations Of The Outflow From An Active Galactic Nucleus

3-D Observations Of The Outflow From An Active Galactic Nucleus


An artist's rendition of the central region of the quasar. Credit: Shinshu University and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan

An artist’s rendition of the central region of the quasar. Credit: Shinshu University and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan

A Japanese team of astronomers, led by Toru Misawa (Shinshu University), has used the Subaru Telescope to observe a distant gravitationally-lensed quasar and probed an active galactic nucleus in its central region. Looking through multiple sight lines, the astronomers obtained a 3-D view of the quasar and discovered complex small structures inside outflows from the galactic nucleus. These outflows will spread widely and eventually affect the evolution of the host galaxy.

Quasars are bright central regions of some distant galaxies. Their luminosities are often hundreds of times greater than those of their host galaxies (Note 2). Scientists believe that their light source is a very bright gaseous disk surrounding a supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy. Gas streams called “outflows” move outward from the disk (Figure 1) and have a substantial influence on surrounding interstellar/intergalactic regions. However, because quasars at large distances look like mere stars, their internal structures are not easy to investigate.

The current team used the large light-gathering power of the 8.2 m Subaru Telescope mounted with its high-resolution spectrograph HDS (High Dispersion Spectrograph) to observe the quasar SDSS J1029+2623 and examine its structure. This quasar is ~10 billion light years distant from Earth toward the constellation Leo, and a massive cluster of galaxies, ~5 billion light years away, lies between the quasar and Earth. Because astronomical objects are usually very distant, they are difficult to study from different angles. Nevertheless, gravitational lensing opens up this possibility.

Full Story: http://naoj.org/Pressrelease/2013/02/18/index.html

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