Why You Need To Know What A Quasar Is
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Why You Need To Know What A Quasar Is

Why You Need To Know What A Quasar Is

Space is vast. It is cold, dark, dusty, and so spread out that even light itself takes eight minutes to get from our sun to Earth's surface. It is also where some of the most incredible scientific discoveries in history have taken place. One such discovery was when scientists identified the first quasar; an occurrence in space that generated numbers so massive that the scientists who found it swore that their calculations were wrong and that something like that couldn't possibly exist.

I think that a reason some people don't pay attention to space and the discoveries in it is that the findings are filled with advanced scientific language and space jargon. In this article, I will attempt to break down a phenomenon that continues to cause debate among astronomers into language that everyone can understand, and hopefully lead to a greater appreciation of what is out there in our night sky.

What is a quasar? To start with, to this day scientists aren't 100 percent sure what a quasar actually is. They have, however, identified several properties and characteristics that they possess. Quasars act as the nuclei at the center of galaxies. They are surrounded by a massive nebula of dust and gases, but no stars. The reason there are no stars is due to the supermassive black hole at the center of each quasar; phenomena in space with the mass of hundreds of millions, even billions, of times that of our sun. Quasars also emit mind-bogglingly powerful radio and x-ray waves. We're talking levels that are billions, and sometimes trillions, as powerful as our sun. (Yes, these numbers get ridiculously huge. That's why the scientists were so certain they'd made mistakes when they first detected these things.)

Back to the supermassive black hole. it does exactly what you think it does; suck up anything and everything around it. The reason that there are no stars around quasars is that they are torn apart by the gravity of the supermassive black holes at their centers. Stop and think about that for a second. Earth's gravity is enough to comfortably keep us from floating around aimlessly. A black hole's gravity is so powerful that it bends light and rips away stars just because they were too close.

Anyway, everything around the quasar will fall into the orbit of the supermassive black hole and begin spinning around it in a spiral pattern. As they spin around, the gravity gets so immensely powerful that, on an atomic level, it rips the electrons from their nuclei. The tidal forces there are so strong they are pulling atoms apart like Silly Putty.

Without electrons, we now have positively charged atoms traveling incredibly fast in a spiral pattern into the black hole. This generates an electrical current which, in turn, generates incomprehensibly vast electromagnetic fields. These fields heat up the surrounding dust and gasses by millions of degrees, causing them to glow. This is why there is so much light around a black hole. The hotter things get, the more energy they radiate, which leads us to the most widely accepted theory among astronomers at the moment: that what we detect with our instruments is the energy radiating from the supermassive black holes consuming the galaxy around them.

Quasars are a constant learning experience in both astronomy and physics alike. We have found large groups of them that are so massive they defy our current understanding of physics. That means, based on our current calculations, they are too large to physically exist, causing astronomers to search for new answers on how they are even possible. Another has been detected 12 billion light years away with a reservoir of water vapor around it that is 140 trillion times the amount of water in the Earth's oceans combined! New discoveries are constantly being made and old theories revisited to see if they work with the new findings. The stars have always been, and continue to be, a place of constant learning and hidden mysteries just waiting to be explored.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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