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Saturday, August 15, 2020

Scientists have detected the strongest wind of all quasars

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Using the Gemini North telescope, scientists detected the strongest wind of any quasar moving at a speed close to 13% of the speed of light. Interestingly, it has enough energy to impact the formation of stars across an entire galaxy.

The energetic wind of the quasar SDSS J135246.37 + 423923.5 moves in its host galaxy. The quasar is approximately 60 billion light-years from Earth.

Scientists also measured the mass of the supermassive black hole feeding the quasar. This astronomical object is 8.6 billion times more massive than the Sun -about 2000 times the mass of black hole in the center of our Milky Way and 50% more massive than the famous black hole of the Messier 87 galaxy.

Sarah Gallagher, astronomer at Western University (Canada) who led the Gemini observations, said, “While high-speed winds had already been observed in quasars, they were thin and vaporous, carrying only a relatively small amount of mass. The output of this quasar, in comparison, sweeps an enormous amount of mass at incredible speeds. This wind is extremely strong, and we don’t know how the quasar can launch something so substantial. “

Karen Leighly, an astronomer at the University of Oklahoma, who was one of the scientific leaders of this research, said: “We were shocked – this is not a new quasar, but no one knew how incredible it was until the team got the Gemini spectrum. These objects were too difficult to study before our team is not developing our methodology and having the data we needed, and now it looks like it might be the most interesting type of wind quasar to study. ”

Hyunseop (Joseph) Choi, a graduate student from the University of Oklahoma and the first author of the scientific article on this discovery, said: “Some quasar-induced winds have enough energy to sweep away the material of a galaxy that is needed to form stars and thereby quench the formation of stars.” We have studied a particularly windy quasar, SDSS J135246.37 + 423923.5, whose flow is so thick that it is difficult to detect the signature of the quasar itself at visible wavelengths. “

Despite the obstruction, the team was able to get a clear view of the quasar using the Gemini Near Infrared Spectrograph (GNIRS) on Gemini North to observe at infrared wavelengths. Using a combination of high quality Gemini spectra and a pioneering computer modeling approach, astronomers discovered the nature of the object’s outflow, which was remarkably more energetic than any previously measured quasar flow.

Choi said: “We do not know how many of these extraordinary objects are in the catalogs of quasars that we do not yet know. Since automated software generally identifies quasars by strong emission lines or the color blue – two properties that our object misses – there could be more of these quasars with extremely powerful speeds hidden in our surveys.

Martin Still, director of an astronomy program at the National Science Foundation, which funds the United States’ Gemini Observatory as part of an international collaboration, said: “This extraordinary discovery was made possible thanks to the resources provided by the International Gemini Observatory; discovery opens new windows and new opportunities to explore the Universe in the years to come. “

Journal reference:
  1. Discovery of a remarkably powerful wide absorption line Quasar output stream in SDSS J135246.37 + 423923.5. DOI: 10.3847 / 1538-4357 / ab6f72

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