Galactic crashes fuel quasars, study finds

Galactic crashes fuel quasars, study finds
New research indicates that quasars are born when galaxies crash. Credit: Michael S. Helfenbein/Yale University

When galaxies collide, bright things happen in the universe.

Using the Hubble Space Telescope's infrared vision, astronomers have unveiled some of the previously hidden origins of , the brightest objects in the universe. A new study finds that quasars are born when crash into each other and fuel supermassive, central black holes.

"The Hubble images confirm that the most luminous quasars in the universe result from violent mergers between galaxies, which fuels black hole growth and transforms the host galaxies," said C. Megan Urry, the Israel Munson Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Yale University, and co-author of the study published online June 18 in The Astrophysical Journal.

"These mergers are also the sites of future black hole mergers, which we hope will one day be visible with gravitational wave telescopes," Urry said.

Quasars emit a light as bright as that of one trillion stars. Over the past two decades, researchers have concluded that the energy for quasars comes from supermassive black holes inside the cores of distant galaxies.

But where do the get their fuel? It had been theorized previously that such energy could come from the merger of two galaxies. The new study confirms it by using Hubble's sensitivity at near-infrared wavelengths of light to see past the intense glow of the quasar, to the themselves.

NASA's Hubble sees the 'teenage years' of quasars
What was happening in the universe 12 billion years ago? The universe was smaller and so crowded that galaxies collided with each other much more frequently than today. Hubble astronomers looked at dusty quasars where their glow was suppressed by dust, allowing a view of the quasar's surroundings. Credit: NASA/ESA

"The Hubble observations are telling us that the peak of quasar activity in the early universe is driven by galaxies colliding and then merging together," said Eilat Glikman of Middlebury College in Vermont, lead author of the study and a former Yale postdoctoral researcher. "We are seeing the quasars in their teenage years, when they are growing quickly and all messed up."

Glikman decided to look for "dust reddened quasars" in several ground-based infrared and radio sky surveys. These quasars are enveloped in dust, dimming their visible light.

Using Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3, Glikman looked at 11 such quasars from the peak of the universe's star-formation era, 12 billion years ago. "The new images capture the dust-clearing transitional phase of the merger-driven black hole scenario," Glikman said. "The Hubble images are both beautiful and descriptive."

Explore further

Large Hubble survey confirms link between mergers and supermassive black holes with relativistic jets

More information: "Major Mergers Host the Most Luminous Red Quasars at z ~ 2: A Hubble Space Telescope WFC3/IR Study," Eilat Glikman et al., 2015 June 18, Astrophysical Journal. Preprint:
Journal information: Astrophysical Journal

Provided by Yale University
Citation: Galactic crashes fuel quasars, study finds (2015, June 18) retrieved 18 July 2019 from
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Jun 18, 2015
Quite a number of things (as usual for official cosmology) do not just add up with this narrative of "Galactic Crashes" that "fuel Quasars". According to the Big Bang scenario, the universe started from the size of a proton, underwent un-imaginable superluminal "inflation". Matter particles, which constitute of only 4% of all that came from the bang, only formed much later, once the universe cooled down (condition necessary to form matter particles) while still expanding at fantastic rate! How any structure not to speak of galaxies could form under such condition? And how many galaxies could form under the condition of universal expansion from only 4% of the total contents created at the initial bang; not to speak of prolific "Crashes" to produce the innumerable quasars that we see? To continue...

Jun 18, 2015

Secondly, "Crashes", "Collision", "Mergers" et al. are peddled as the only evil dynamics that spoils the otherwise symmetrical, perfect, the majestic beauty and serenity of the cosmos and even of the nearby galaxies! What happens in the "crashes", "collisions" in the nearby galaxies? They selectively do not "fuel" absolutely ANY quasars at all, right? Poor Chip Arp missed the chance to die from laughter!

Jun 19, 2015
There's a specific name for that process, first there was baryogenesis, which was the asymmetry between matter and antimatter, then a phase called nucleosynthesis, which is the process of matter "freezing" out of the big bang energy. This is why we have particle colliders, so we can smash matter into energy and watch it cool down.

They took a freaking picture of galaxy mergers fueling a quasar, what more do you want? Why are you even talking?

Jun 19, 2015
Makes me wonder what an observer 12 billion LY from us would see looking in our direction.

Jun 19, 2015
Will someone explain how the universe which is expanding at a speed close to the speed of light would be able to form cosmic objects and structures?Why the gravity did not act immediately after the hypothetical big bang when it was dence but later when expanded substantially and its density significantly decreased?

Jun 19, 2015
"There's a specific name for that process, first there was baryogenesis, which was the asymmetry between matter and antimatter, then a phase called nucleosynthesis, which is the process of matter "freezing" out of the big bang energy. This is why we have particle colliders, so we can smash matter into energy and watch it cool down."

Are you know this for sure or just sound logical to you? Because something can be logical and at the same time to have nothing to do with reality.

Jun 19, 2015

I came to comment here after I read the abstract of this paper quoted in this report. Quasars and the name Arp are closely related. Arp was a personal friend of mine . We communicated for about a decade until his death; so I think I know Arp's views as much as anybody else.

Just give me answer to one question. Even if we agree with this article that "galactic crashes fuel quasars"; crashes in the nearby galaxies may also "fuel quasars"; is it not? So, what is wrong when Arp asserts that high redshift quasars are associated with low redshift galaxies?

You see my friend Arp was a passionate and creative giant of natural science; like the Giants of the past who pursued their science for mere thirst of knowledge. What we have now are troops of conformed scientist serfs who are totally dependent of monopoly capitalism for their livelihood, career and crafts and who toil mighty to bring about only "expected" and "acceptable" results!

Jun 19, 2015

You seem to be an honest and serious minded defender of official astrophysics and cosmology. But I am sorry to say my friend that you are naïve like most non-official scientists. Most official scientists are much more cleaver. They do not burn their opponents on the Stake, but they kill them more efficiently by just ignoring them or not talking about them at all. This is more efficient because the opponents do not get any publicity at all in the controlled journals and media.

You are trying to defend a science whose philosophical base is totally tattered with the development of the theory of organic evolution and quantum dynamics. What you are defending is the new form of epicycles where parameters are added one after the other (as the need arise) to save the original premise. But by now the nakedness of the emperor is increasingly obvious to all; in spite of the frenetic attempts by official scientists to hide it by dressing him with more and more exotic clothes!

Jun 19, 2015
@ JeanTate:

"In the very early days - 1960/70s - Arp's ideas were interesting and not inconsistent with the then observational data"

It is not true! Arp's first seminal paper on the galaxy-quasars association was rejected by the then editor of APJ Chandrasekhar, the official guru of astrophysics and since Arp did not recant his claim, he was banished from official astronomy and astrophysics.

Arp's contention was not accept even at that time; because if it is accepted then the whole edifice of modern cosmology would collapse, Hubble's law included! They call Arp the Galileo of modern times; for some reason! So long!

Jun 19, 2015
@ JeanTate:

I had to respond to your last comment.
"Pseudoscience comments (including non-mainstream theories) will be deleted"
Now you want to speak from authority, not logic! Is there scientific logic in my first two comments you want deleted? So, we can discuss only "mainstream theories" and accept them without any thinking and everything else is pseudoscience? I wish I knew it before I starting a dialogue with you!

Yes, Arp's paper was rejected. He was denied access to telescope he was working with at Palomar and was excluded from any major astronomical projects. He continued to publish in collaboration with colleagues and students. He found refuge at Max-Planck Institute at Garching near Munich, where he said he only interacted with other scientists at the tennis court. He would scavenge data thrown away by other to write some papers. It was only through the generosity of Mr. Roy Keys (of Apeiron) that his books were published.

Jun 20, 2015
'Locally' - which can be regions as large as many million lightyears - gravitational self-attraction 'beats' the expansion. And has done so since 'forever' (sorta; it's tricky in the early universe). However, these regions will shrink as the universe continues to expand.

Do you believe in this? What is the foundation for such speculations? We can see very even distribution of matter in cosmic space which does no confirm such hypotetical inbalance caused by varying physical laws. Where is the matter that escaped gravity? Behind the visible universe? And where is the matter that does not succeed to escape gravity? In black holes?

Jun 20, 2015
If matter succeed to escape gravity in the begining it will never consolidate later in cosmic structures thanks to gravity. If not succeed, will fall back in the hypothetical primordial fireball.

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