Plasma spitting quasar illuminates light on the youth of the universe, early galaxy formation

Plasma spitting quasar illuminates light on the youth of the universe, early galaxy formation

Artistic concept of a radio beam spewing fast-moving material from the newly discovered quasar that formed within the first billion years of the universe. Credit: Artwork by Robin Dienel, Carnegie Faculty of Science

Carnegie's Eduardo Bañados led a team that found a quasar with the brightest radio emission ever seen in the early Universe as it spat a jet of extremely fast-moving material.


Bañados' Discovery was followed by Emmanuel Momjian of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, which allowed the team to fly the jet, which shot from a quasar that had formed within the first billion years of the universe, with unprecedented detail see.

The results, published in two newspapers in The Astrophysical Journal, astronomers will be able to better explore the youth of the universe for an important transitional period to their present state.

Quasars are made up of huge black holes that accrete matter in the centers of massive galaxies. This newly discovered quasar, called PSO J352.4034-15.3373, belongs to a rare breed that not only swallows matter into the black hole, but also emits a plasma jet approaching at the speed of light. This beam makes it extremely bright in the frequencies detected by radio telescopes. Although quasars were identified more than 50 years ago by their heavy radio emissions, we now know that only about 10 percent of them are strong radio stations.

In addition, the light of this newly discovered quasar has reached nearly 13 billion of the 13.7 billion years of the universe to reach us here on Earth. P352-15 is the first quasar with clear references to radio jets observed in the first billion years of the universe's history.

"There is a shortage of known strong radio stations from the youth of the universe, and this is the brightest radio quasar in this epoch by an order of magnitude," Bañados said.

"This is the most detailed picture yet of such a bright galaxy at this great distance," Momjian added.

The Big Bang ushered in the universe as a hot soup of extremely energetic particles that expanded rapidly. As it expanded, it cooled and pooled into neutral hydrogen gas that darkened the universe without any sources of light until gravity condensed matter into the first stars and galaxies. About 800 million years after the Big Bang, the energy released by these first galaxies caused the neutral hydrogen, which was scattered throughout the universe, to be excited and lose or ionize an electron, a state in which the gas has been from that time remained.

It is highly unusual to find radio-emitting quasars like this one from the time shortly after the light of the universe lights up again.

"The jet from this quasar could serve as an important calibration tool to help future projects penetrate the Dark Ages and perhaps show how the earliest galaxies originated," concluded Bañados.


Explore further:
Scientists observe supermassive black hole in the infant universe

More information:
Eduardo Bañados et al., A powerful radio-loud quasar at the end of cosmic reionization, The Astrophysical Journal (2018). DOI: 10.3847 / 2041-8213 / aac511

Journal Reference:
Astrophysical Journal

Provided by:
Carnegie Facility for Science

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