Case of Missing Quasar Gas Clouds Now Solved
The case of the missing quasar gas clouds has been solved by a worldwide research team led by Penn State astronomers. The discovery was announced in a paper published in The Astrophysical Journal, which describes 19 distant quasars whose giant clouds of gas seem to have disappeared in just a few years.
Quasars are powered by gas falling into supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies. As the gas falls into the black hole, it heats up and gives off light. The gravitational force from the black hole is so strong, and is pulling so much gas, that the hot gas glows brighter than the entire surrounding galaxy. But with so much going on in such a small space, some of the gas is not able to find its way into the black hole. Much of it instead escapes, carried along by strong winds blowing out from the center of the quasar.