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Unique Quasar Has a Built-in Dimmer Switch
Posted by Guy Pirro on 1/27/2015 9:39 AM
Quasars are enormously bright objects at the edge of our universe that emit massive amounts of energy. In an optical telescope, quasars appear point-like, similar to stars from which they derive their name (Quasar = Quasi-Stellar). Quasars draw their energy from super-massive black holes at their center that power the explosive energy output. Until now, scientists have been able to study both bright phase quasars and dim phases quasars, but they have never seen a quasar change from a bright to dim state. Now, Yale-led researchers have spotted a quasar that has dimmed by a factor of six or seven, compared with observations from only a few years ago. Catching one as it changes within a human lifetime is unprecedented and will hopefully help fill in many gaps in our understanding of the life cycle of a quasar.
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