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Q. What is a quasar? — Mel A.
A. The word quasar is short for quasi-stellar object (QSO).
A quasar is a small, but enormously bright, object emitting massive amounts of energy from the far distant edge of our Universe.
Because these star-like objects have an extremely large red-shift, astronomers say they are the most distant objects across the Universe.
In an optical telescope, they look like points of light, similar to stars. Quasars emit large amounts of ultraviolet radiation. Some also send out large amounts of X-ray and radio-frequency energy. Some are radio-quiet.
Quasars are objects at the cores of very energetic galaxies. Their luminosity is from 10 to 100,000 times that of our Milky Way galaxy. Astronomers think black holes are at the center of quasars.
Quasars have been known since 1963-1964 when they were detected first by Allan R. Sandage of California Institute of Technology and Dutch astronomer Maarten Schmidt. Several thousand quasars are known today.
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