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Name: paul gilbert
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Date: 1993 - 1999


Question:
How are quasars powered and what causes their intense luminosities. Is the quasar actually a small galasy in itself or a forming star?


Replies:
Quasars are now thought to be galaxy-like rather than star-like, although the name comes "quasi-stellar object." When first discovered in 1965 (by a graduate student!) they were thought to be nearby stellar objects because of their luminosity and size (they appeared as point sources like stars), but they had extremely high red shifts which usually indicates extreme distance. If they are far away, then their energy output is ENORMOUS. We really don't know what their power source could be except to say that it probably involves one or more massive black holes. But that's really just a guess because we don't know of any physical mechanisms that can produce so much energy from a something the size of a galaxy for a long period of time. One idea is that quasars are galaxies in a very early stage of development. Their extreme distance makes them extremely old. If you believe in a continuous morphology of galaxies and similar objects, then "Seyfert galaxies" may be what quasars evolve into.

Hawley



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