Quasi-stellar object

Astronomical Object

Active galactic nucleus containing a supermassive black hole

A quasar is an extremely luminous active galactic nucleus (AGN). It is pronounced KWAY-zar, and sometimes known as a quasi-stellar object, abbreviated QSO. This emission from an AGN is powered by a supermassive black hole with a mass ranging from millions to tens of billions of solar masses, surrounded by a gaseous accretion disk. Gas in the disc falling towards the black hole heats up because of friction and releases energy in the form of electromagnetic radiation. The radiant energy of quasars is enormous; the most powerful quasars have luminosities thousands of times greater than that of a galaxy such as the Milky Way. Usually, quasars are categorized as a subclass of the more general category of AGN. The redshifts of quasars are of cosmological origin.

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