Hubble Captures Spectacular Images of the Green, Wispy Ghosts of Quasars

Thursday, 02 April 2015 - 1:01PM
NASA
Astronomy
Space Imagery
Thursday, 02 April 2015 - 1:01PM
Hubble Captures Spectacular Images of the Green, Wispy Ghosts of Quasars
NASA's Hubble has just captured spectacular images of the looping, spiral, and braided remnants, or "ghosts," of dead quasars, which may provide us with more insight into the history of these unusually bright galaxies.

Hubble Captures Spectacular Image of the Green, Wispy Ghosts of Quasars

[Credit: NASA]



These ephemeral structures are usually invisible, but are illuminated by quasars, the bright galaxy cores that are powered by material falling into the supermassive black hole at the center of galaxies. The quasar causes the filaments to glow through a process called photoionization, in which oxygen atoms in the structures absorb light from the quasar and then reflect it over a period of thousands of years.

"The ethereal wisps outside the host galaxies were blasted, perhaps briefly, by powerful ultraviolet radiation from a supermassive black hole at the core of each galaxy," Hubble said in a statement"Material falling into the black hole was heated to a point where a brilliant searchlight beam traveled into deep space."

But as of now, the quasars that would have illuminated the structures are not bright enough to account for the bright spots in the images. "This is a record of something that happened in the past," said survey leader Bill Keel. "The glowing filaments are telling us that the quasars were once emitting more energy, or they are changing very rapidly, which they were not supposed to do."

One possible explanation is that the structures were created during the violent collision of two galaxies. According to the research team, the green filaments were the result of long tails of gas being torn apart by the immense gravitational pull during the merger.

Hubble Captures Spectacular Image of the Green, Wispy Ghosts of Quasars

[Credit: NASA]



Hubble Captures Spectacular Image of the Green, Wispy Ghosts of Quasars

[Credit: NASA]



Hubble Captures Spectacular Image of the Green, Wispy Ghosts of Quasars

[Credit: NASA]



Hubble Captures Spectacular Image of the Green, Wispy Ghosts of Quasars

[Credit: NASA]



Hubble Captures Spectacular Image of the Green, Wispy Ghosts of Quasars

[Credit: NASA]

 

Hubble Captures Spectacular Image of the Green, Wispy Ghosts of Quasars

[Credit: NASA]

 

Hubble Captures Spectacular Image of the Green, Wispy Ghosts of Quasars

[Credit: NASA]

 

Hubble Captures Spectacular Image of the Green, Wispy Ghosts of Quasars

[Credit: NASA]

 


Via Science Daily.
Science
Space
NASA
Astronomy
Space Imagery

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