Astronomers reported that they have found four quasars so tightly packed (according to a cosmic scale) that they shouldn’t even exist. The newly found quasar formation also known as quasar quartet is located in a dense cloud of cold gas at the edges of the visible universe.
Usually quasars are very scattered across space and do no usually stay together. Scientists often encounter binary formations of the incredibly bright objects but never did they found a formation of four packed within a cloud of gas.
Other researchers say that although quasar quartet had been long time theorized, the chances of actually spotting one were one in 10 million.
The authors of the finding argued that quasars are millions of light-years apart, not 650,000 light-years like those within the newly found quartet are. So finding such a tight formation without it being an optical illusion is a ten-million-to-one discovery, scientists claim.
Quasars are bright areas at the center of galaxies that usually envelop a very active massive black hole. As they engulf more and more matter, black holes release heaps of radiation which makes surrounding quasars all the more brighter.
Quasars can be so bright that they can still be detected by optical instruments located billions of light-years away. The four quasars recently spotted by scientists were so distant that it took more than 10 billion years for their light to reach our planet.
Furthermore, they are embedded within a 1-million-light-year-wide nebula (seen as a blue spot in the photo), or a cold gas cloud, which holds enough matter for 100 billion new stars. Astronomers admitted that such finding was at odds with their previous theories.
“If you find something theory says is very unlikely, you either have to conclude you got incredibly lucky, or that the theory is flawed,”
said one of the researchers involved in the discovery.
Scientists were especially amazed to find four quasars so close together when only 500.000 of 100 billion galaxies in the known universe host massive black holes that are active enough to form quasars.
Scientists tried to explain such a “coincidence” by referring to the big bang theory and the elusive dark matter. According to current theories, galaxies formed when dark matter absorbed the gas resulted in the big bang. But as the matter was absorbed it usually heated up. Yet, there were a few exceptions like the newly found nebula, whose cold gas probably helped the quasar quartet maintain its brighteness and not break formation, researchers explained. On the other hand, scientists admitted that they had no idea of “why such a thing should exist.”
Image Source: CBS News
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