Illustration of Quasar

1962-1964 Quasar

The book of science

Tom Sharp

John Bolton, Maarten Schmidt, Edwin Salpeter, Yakov Zeldovich astrophysics Illustration of Quasar


Radio astronomers discovered them hundreds of them, but didn’t know what they were, other than extremely bright point-like objects with rapidly changing luminosity and erratic spectral compositions highly redshifted. * John Bolton and Maarten Schmidt were the first to locate a quasar’s visible origin, and to suggest that its redshift was caused by the expansion of space at an extreme distance and Edwin Salpeter and Yakov Zeldovich were the first to suggest that the quasar’s extreme power was from matter being drawn from an accretion disc into a supermassive black hole.

Unacceptable explanations

It took a while for astronomers and physicists to accept that the universe is expanding. It took a while for astronomers and physicists to accept that black holes existed outside of theory. Nothing at the time was known to produce such brightness at such a distance from such a small point in space.

Quasi-stellar objects

The petal of a yellow flower on the stalk of a common weed catches the sunlight. A gold crown glints as someone smiles somewhere in the crowd. A single candle shines through a dirty windowpane to end a long sea voyage.

Originally another one of those unidentifiable sources of energy in the sky, the quasar tells us about the universe we live in.

See also in The book of science:

Readings in wikipedia: