|| 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 prodigous 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 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!
The bottom image is a photograhic picture taken through the 4m Mayall telescope here at Kitt Peak perhaps 25 years ago. Click on the image for more information.
|Luminance = 30 minutes binned 1x1||
Minimum credit line: Alan and Lynn Gingrich/Adam Block/NOAO/AURA/NSF
BACK to main Best of AOP page.
Return to NOAO Home Page