Skip to comments.The First Triple Quasar
Posted on 01/15/2007 3:15:39 PM PST by Fred Nerks
This false-color composite of the triple quasar system was made using a combination of Keck Observatory's and the European Very Large Telescope's visible and infrared data. S. G. Djorgovski and colleagues, Caltech, and EPFLOf all the known objects known in the universe, quasars probably deserves the most superlatives. These blazing cosmic beacons pack the energy of an entire galaxys worth of stars into a volume of space the size of our solar system. Until now, astronomers have found about 100,000 of these extraordinary objects, which are fueled by supermassive black holes devouring large clumps of matter. Most quasars are solitary objects residing in the cores of large galaxies. Since the late 1980s, astronomers have found about 100 double quasars. But in an announcement made on Monday at the American Astronomical Society conference in Seattle, astronomers have confirmed that quasars can come in threes.
Using one of the 10-meter Keck Telescopes in Hawaii and one of the four 8.2-meter reflectors of the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile, an American-Swiss team led by George Djorgovski (Caltech) has identified a third quasar very close to a known binary quasar. The three quasars are separated in space by only a few tens of thousands of light-years, less than the distance from Earth to our nearest sizable galactic neighbors, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds.
The binary quasar, previously known as LBQS 1429-008, was discovered by Paul Hewett (Cambridge University, England) and his colleagues in 1989. But in deep Keck images, Djorgovskis group found a much fainter third quasar (at 24th magnitude) within 5 arcseconds of the known pair, which translates to a physical separation of a few tens of thousands of light-years at the quasars great distance (we see the quasar as it existed 10.4 billion years ago). Subsequent observations at Keck and VLT have virtually ruled out that astronomers are being fooled by a cosmic mirage an effect predicted by Einsteins general theory of relativity known as gravitational lensing.
We see this system at exactly the right time, says Djorgovski. The three quasar host galaxies are in the process of merging. The result thus bolsters the prevailing view that quasars light up during galaxy mergers, during which powerful gravitational perturbations funnel huge quantities of gas into the monster black holes. The three black holes in this triple system probably range in mass from a few tens of million to a few billion times that of the Sun.
Computer simulations by Frederic Rasio (Northwestern University) and his colleagues show that the two of the supermassive black holes will sink to the center of the newly formed large galaxy and form a binary system. When the third black hole also ventures into the core, the system will undergo what Rasio describes as a chaotic dance that lasts at most a few million years years. Eventually one of the black holes will be ejected into the galaxys halo or possibly even intergalactic space, and the two binary members will coalesce relatively quickly. But this process wont occur in this triple system for another few hundred million years.
In other quasar news announced at the conference, Induk Lee and Myunghshin Im (Seoul National University, South Korea) presented an efficient method for finding quasars in the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy. This region has been known as the zone of avoidance because the thick clouds of gas and dust obscure light from more distant objects. But by correlating strong radio sources with objects having particularly red colors, Lee and Im have found 40 new quasars. These quasars shine though the galactic plane, which Lee says gives astronomers an opportunity to use them a tool to study the gaseous component of the Milky Way.
This false-color composite of the triple quasar system was made using a combination of Keck Observatory's and the European Very Large Telescope's visible and infrared data. S. G. Djorgovski and colleagues, Caltech, and EPFL
Some interesting POV on the Thunderbolts site.
Oct 26, 2004 Another Active Ejecting Galaxy
July 26, 2004 Einstein Cross
Nov 02, 2005 Halton Arp: A Modern Day Galileo
Nov 21, 2006 Knowing Too Many Wrong Things
Aug 02, 2004 Missing Quasars in M82
Oct 01, 2004 Quasar in Front of a Galaxy
Aug 08, 2005 Quasars in Infrared are Still Nearby
Sep 21, 2004 Stephan's Quintet
Jun 10, 2005 The Picture that Wont Go Away
Jan 06, 2005 The Universe According to Arp
I don't think that is what the article is saying. It is describing a method of observing distant quasars through the plane of the Milky Way. The plane was called the "zone of avoidance" since it was so crowded with matter that it was difficult to directly observe anything through it.
I understand the same meaning, thank you.
Thanks, my bad.
Another creation from the Almighty.
You're bad? How the heck are the rest of us going to learn if someone doesn't ask questions???
Exactly! Questions beget answers, we all learn.
Exactly, those quasars aren't "in" the arms of the Milky Way, they are behind them, as viewed from our location out in the Galactic boondocks of one of those arms, ... way, way, behind them.