Quasar Revealed In Unprecedented Detail
Astronomers have made a crucial step towards a scientific goal by observing the heart of a distant quasar with angular resolution. An international team of astronomers connected radio telescopes in Chile, Hawaii and Arizona for the first time using the technique of Very Long Baseline Interferometry, enabling them to make the sharpest observation ever of the center of a distant galaxy, the bright quasar 3C 279. This quasar contains a supermassive black hole with a mass of as much as a billion times the mass of the sun.
The observations show that the quasar’s radio signals come from within a region only 28 micro-arcseconds in diameter, which is just 0.5 light-years within the nucleus of the quasar. The team’s observations represent a new milestone towards imaging supermassive black holes and the regions around them.