What are quasars made of? (Beginner)

What are Quasars made of ? Are they just like our stars (huge ones) or something else ? How far are they from us ?

Quasars are some of the most distant objects that Astronomers observe. They look like stars in optical light so when they were first discovered this is what they were believed to be. It was later worked out that they are incredibly far away so to be as bright as stars they must be emitting HUGE amount of light. Many of them are also very bright in the radio. Another part of the puzzle came along when it was discovered that they are also quite small by Astrophysical standards - just the size of our solar system. The only way to generate such huge amounts of energy in such a small region of space (which is known today) is from matter falling towards a Black Hole. As such it is believed that Quasars are massive black holes in the centres of young galaxies.

This page was last updated June 27, 2015.

About the Author

Karen Masters

Karen Masters

Karen was a graduate student at Cornell from 2000-2005. She went on to work as a researcher in galaxy redshift surveys at Harvard University, and is now on the Faculty at the University of Portsmouth back in her home country of the UK. Her research lately has focused on using the morphology of galaxies to give clues to their formation and evolution. She is the Project Scientist for the Galaxy Zoo project.

Twitter:  @KarenLMasters
Website:  http://icg.port.ac.uk/~mastersk/

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