The Sharpest Look Ever Of A Distant Galaxy

What you’re looking at below is the sharpest view ever of the centre of a distant galaxy, quasar 3C 279. The galaxy is classified as a quasar “because it shines ultra-bright as massive amounts of material falls into the giant black hole at its core,” says

The super bright quasar is 5 billion light years from Earth (that’s how many years it takes light from this area of the universe to reach us) and contains a monstrous black hole that is about one billion times the mass of the sun, according to a release form the European Southern Observatory.  

Astronomers were able to make the incredibly clear observation, which they say is two million times finer than human vision, by connecting three telescopes that are thousands of miles apart: the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment telescope in Chile, the Submillimeter Array in Hawaii and the Submillimeter Telescope in Arizona. 

“The observations represent a new milestone towards imaging supermassive black holes and the regions around them. In future it is planned to connect even more telescopes in this way to create the so-called Event Horizon Telescope. The Event Horizon Telescope will be able to image the shadow of the supermassive black hole in the centre of our Milky Way galaxy, as well as others in nearby galaxies,” ESO said in a statement. 

Here’s an artist’s impression of the quasar 3C 279.


Photo: ESO/M.Kornmesser

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