Scientists have reported the largest blast of energy ever recorded from a far-off quasar, some two trillion times more energetic than the sun. The discovery may explain confusing discrepancies between the observed and predicted masses of black holes.
Quasars are extremely bright galaxy cores, at the center of which sits a black hole. Their light is generated when material is sucked into that black hole, creating large amounts of energy.
But quasars are also capable of emitting that energy back out, away from the black hole, and one of those emissions is what the researchers, led by Nahum Arav of Virginia Tech, observed.
The team used the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope, located in Paranal, Chile.
Energy outflows from quasars on the scale of what Arav's team observed have been predicted for some time by theorists, but have never been recorded by researchers.