Quasars are extremely distant objects in our known universe. They are the furthest objects away from our galaxy that can be seen. Quasars are extremely bright masses of energy and light. The name quasar is actually short for quasi-stellar radio source or quasi-stellar object. Quasars are the brightest objects in our universe, although to see one through a telescope they do not look that bright at all. This is because quasars are so far away. They emit radio waves, x-rays and light waves. Quasars appear as faint red stars to us here on Earth.
A quasar is believed to be a supermassive black hole surrounded by an accretion disk. An accretion disk is a flat, disk-like structure of gas that rapidly spirals around a larger object, like a black hole, a new star, a white dwarf, etc. A quasar gradually attracts this gas and sometimes other stars or or even small galaxies with their superstrong gravity. These objects get sucked into the black hole. When a galaxy, star or gas is absorbed into a quasar in such a way, the result is a massive collision of matter that causes a gigantic explosive output of radiation energy and light. This great burst of energy results in a flare, which is a distinct characteristic of quasars.
The light, radiation and radio waves from these galaxies and stars being absorbed into a black hole travel billions of light years through space. When we look at quasars which are 10-15 billion light years away, we are looking 10-15 billion years into the past. Pretty amazing, right?Many astronomers believe that quasars are the most distant objects yet detected in the universe. Quasars give off enormous amounts of energy – they can be a trillion times brighter than the Sun! Quasars are believed to produce their energy from massive black holes in the center of the galaxies in which the quasars are located. Because quasars are so bright, they drown out the light from all the other stars in the same galaxy.
Despite their brightness, due to their great distance from Earth, no quasars can be seen with an unaided eye. Energy from quasars takes billions of years to reach the Earth’s atmosphere. For this reason, the study of quasars can provide astronomers with information about the early stages of the universe.
If a supermassive black hole is the source of a quasar’s power, then about 10 Sunlike stars per year falling into the black hole could produce its enormous luminosity. Quasars might be the ancestors of all galaxies, the violent beginnings of us all.
A quasi-stellar radio source (“quasar”) is a very energetic and distant active galactic nucleus. Quasars are extremely luminous and were first identified as being high redshift sources of electromagnetic energy, including radio waves and visible light, that were point-like, similar to stars, rather than extended sources similar to galaxies.Quasars show a very high redshift, which is an effect of the expansion of the universe between the quasar and the Earth.