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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Torus in a galactic nucleus

An artist's conception of a quasar, with a Chandra X-ray Observatory image of the quasar GB1508+5714 inset. The data reveal a jet of high-energy particles that extends more than 100,000 light years from the supermassive black hole powering the quasar. A new study shows for the first time that a torus of gas and dust will naturally form around the nuclear black hole as material falls in toward the nucleus. Credit: NASA/Chandra

( -- Quasars are among the most energetic objects in the universe, with some of them as luminous as ten thousand Milky Way galaxies. Quasars are thought to have massive black holes at their cores, and astronomers also think that the regions around the black holes actively accrete matter, a process that releases vast amounts of energy and often ejects a powerful, narrow jet of material. Because they are so bright, quasars can be seen even when they are very far away, and this combination of being both highly energetic and located at cosmological distances makes them appealing to astronomers trying to figure out the nature of galactic center black holes (our own Milky Way has one) and the conditions in the early universe that prompt these monsters to form. 

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.
While the nature of these objects was controversial until as recently as the early 1980s, there is now a scientific consensus that a quasar is a compact region in the center of a massive galaxy surrounding its central supermassive black hole. Its size is 10–10,000 times the Schwarzschild radius of the black hole. The quasar is powered by an accretion disc around the black hole.
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