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Double quasars revealed as space telescopes peer into history of the universe
Double quasars revealed as space telescopes peer into history of the universe
by Doug Cunningham
Washington DC (UPI) Apr 5, 2023

Astronomers have discovered a pair of quasars indicating the merging of a pair of galaxies, according to a report published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

These high-energy quasars are providing a glimpse into the universe when it was "just" 3 billion years old.

The quasars were revealed through both ground and space-based telescopes that peered into the universe's history. They are allowing scientists to better understand the evolution of galaxies at "cosmic noon." That is when galaxies had bursts of star formations in the history of the universe.

"We don't see a lot of double quasars at this early time. And that's why this discovery is so exciting. Knowing about the progenitor population of black holes will eventually tell us about the emergence of supermassive black holes in the early Universe, and how frequent those mergers could be," said graduate student Yu-Ching Chen of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, lead author of this study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

According to NASA, they were "gravitationally bound quasars, both blazing away inside two merging galaxies."

Quasars are powered by supermassive black holes putting out what NASA described as "ferocious fountains of energy."

According to NASA, there's increasing evidence that large galaxies are built up through mergers like this one.

"We're starting to unveil this tip of the iceberg of the early binary quasar population," said Xin Liu of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "This is the uniqueness of this study. It is actually telling us that this population exists, and now we have a method to identify double quasars that are separated by less than the size of a single galaxy."

NASA said the Hubble Space Telescope, Gemini North Observatory in Hawaii, the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array in New Mexico and NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory all contributed to the uncovering of the quasars. The European Space Agency's Gaia space observatory helped identify the quasars in the first place, according to NASA.

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