Washington: Astronomers have found evidence of a collision between galaxies driving intense activity in a highly luminous quasar.
Scientists led by Montserrat Villar Martin of the Instituto de Astrofisica de Andalucia-CSIC in Spain used the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile and the Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC) – the two largest telescopes in the world - to study activity from the quasar SDSS J0123+00.
A quasar is a star-like object that may send out radio waves and other forms of energy. Most scientists argue that quasars contain a central black hole, with a mass of at least several million Suns.
“The goal of our work is to study their individual characteristics in detail. In our study we have obtained some surprising results. For example, we have observed a giant nebula of ionised gas associated with SDSS J0123+00, and signs of an interaction with a nearby galaxy.
“This strengthens the idea that activity in galaxies is partly driven by the exchange of material between the active galaxies (or quasars) and their neighbours,” explains Montserrat Villar-Martin.
The nebula is about six times larger than our own Milky Way Galaxy and, according to the authors, is probably made of the debris of the interaction between SDSS J0123+00 and its neighbour.
The find is published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.