A quasar shuts down


Astronomers have identified the first quasar to change its energy output.

Quasars are massive, luminous objects that draw their energy from black holes. Until now, scientists have been unable to study both the bright and dim phases of a quasar in a single source. As described in an upcoming edition of the Astrophysical Journal, Yale-led researchers spotted a quasar that had dimmed by a factor of six or seven, compared with observations from a few years earlier.

It is also believed that quasars are the central supermassive black holes at the center of these very distant and ancient galaxies. Knowing how these black holes change can tell us something about the behavior of Sagittarius A*, the generally quiet central black hole in the Milky Way.

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