Scientists Observe Long, Curvy Jet Coming From a Quasar Across the Universe

Researchers have been able to examine a massive jet of electromagnetic radiation using the Event Horizon Telescope, which spans the whole planet.

The Event Horizon Telescope, which gave us the first-ever look of a supermassive black hole at the heart of our galaxy and the first photograph of a black hole, now examined a considerably brighter target: a quasar. Quasars are incredibly bright objects that are created when matter enters massive black holes. The EHT team may have just looked inside one of these so-called active galactic nuclei, which radiate electromagnetic radiation into space.

The farthest distant object ever observed with the Event Horizon Telescope was NRAO 530, a quasar located about 7.5 billion light-years away that was the subject of a multinational cooperation of scientists. The team of researchers, coordinated by Svetlana Jorstad of the Institute of Astrophysical Research at Boston University, detected some of the quasar's characteristics using the telescope array. They specifically captured a photograph of a 1.7 light-year-long jet of radio-wavelength radiation.

The study team also detected the quasar's center, which is where the jet starts, as well as two enigmatic structures there that they were unable to view well with their present equipment. The team's studies of the light released from the jet suggest that the magnetic field of the jet also has some form of curve or helical pattern to it.

According to Jorstad's comment, "The outermost feature exhibits a particularly high degree of linear polarization, suggesting a very highly organized magnetic field."

Very Long Baseline Interferometry, sometimes referred to as VLBI, is one of the primary techniques Jorstad and the study team utilized to photograph the quasar. The same celestial source can be detected by a group of telescopes dispersed throughout the globe, such as those that make up the Event Horizon Telescope. In order to create a comprehensive image of the target, astronomers can then gather these many data points and account for any change in detection time (data from a source might be obtained at one telescope slightly before it is gathered at another telescope).

Thanks to new viewing technologies like EHT and the recently deployed Webb Space Telescope, astronomers are learning more about quasars. A polychrome quasar whose galaxy is interacting with three others in a galactic "knot" was seen in Webb images that were released last autumn. Additionally, the Hubble Space Telescope saw quasar "tsunamis" in 2020, which scientists believe could be strong enough to stop galaxy development.