News

Proof that some galaxies are LIERs

11 January 2016 Astronomy Now

You might think that astronomers could easily tell the difference between a black hole and a white dwarf — but nature can be deceptive. Astronomers from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) have just announced the results of a new study that reveals the true origin of puzzling light from nearby galaxies.

News

The case of the missing quasar

9 January 2016 Astronomy Now

Astronomers can’t find any sign of the black hole at the centre of the quasar SDSS J1011+5442, and they couldn’t be happier. The black hole is still there, of course, but over the past ten years, it appears to have swallowed all the gas in its vicinity. With the gas consumed, researchers were unable to detect the spectroscopic signature of the quasar, which now appears as an otherwise normal galaxy.

News

Hubble finds that nearest quasar is powered by binary black hole

28 August 2015 Astronomy Now

Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have found that Markarian 231, the nearest galaxy to Earth that hosts a quasar, is powered by two central black holes. The finding suggests that quasars — the brilliant cores of active galaxies — may commonly host two central supermassive black holes that fall into orbit about one another as a result of galactic mergers.

News

Astronomers baffled by discovery of rare quasar quartet

15 May 2015 Astronomy Now

Hitting the jackpot is one thing, but if you hit the jackpot four times in a row you might wonder if the odds were somehow stacked in your favour. A group of astronomers led by Joseph Hennawi of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy have found themselves in exactly this situation. They discovered the first known quasar quartet: four quasars, each one a rare object in its own right, in close physical proximity to each other.

News

Binary black holes found verging on merging

22 April 2015 Keith Cooper

Twin black holes, so close that they are gravitationally bound and orbiting around one another in the final stages before they merge to form one colossal black hole, have been found in a quasar that existed around 10.3 billion years ago.

News

Ancient quasar with massive black hole found at cosmic dawn

25 February 2015 Astronomy Now

An international team of astronomers has found a huge and ancient black hole which was powering the brightest object in the early universe. The black hole’s mass is 12 billion times that of the Sun, and was at the centre of a quasar that pumped out a million billion times the energy of our star.