Best of AOP - Galaxies

3C273

The bright seemingly star-like object in the center of the top frame is a picture of quasar 3C273. A quasar is a "quasi-stellar" object that acquired its name before astronomers understood their true nature. These objects are superluminous galaxies that are in general some of the furthest objects observed in the Universe. The strange name "3C273" comes from a radio survey that detected many strong radio sources in the sky such as this quasar. Not only do these objects emit prodigious amounts of energy (more than 100 times an ordinary galaxy), they also change in brightness on very small timescales. Imagine, an entire variable galaxy! Indeed astronomers believe that many (if not all) quasars harbor massive blackholes (with no analogue in our neighborhood). 3C273 shows good evidence for this with its 150,000 light year long jet (the linear feature at 4 O'clock) which is being expelled at tremendous velocities from the heart of the "galaxy." This object is by far the furthest example in this "Best of AOP" gallery at a whopping 2.4 billion light years distant! Remember, this image was acquired with a 0.4m telescope. Imagine the capabilities of a 4m, 8m or 10m telescope with professional equipment!

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Last Updated: 29-Jan-2014

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About This Image

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Equipment

Meade 16in LX200 telescope operating at f/6.3

SBIG ST8E CCD camera with color filter wheel

Luminance = 30 minutes binned 1x1

One iteration of L-R deconvolution (sharpening) algorithm using CCDsharp was applied to the luminance image.

Minimum credit line: Alan and Lynn Gingrich/Adam Block/NOAO/AURA/NSF