NOIRLab: Dual Quasars Blaze Bright Inside a Galaxy Merger

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bystander
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NOIRLab: Dual Quasars Blaze Bright Inside a Galaxy Merger

Post by bystander » Wed Apr 05, 2023 4:10 pm

Dual Quasars Blaze Bright at the Center of Merging Galaxies
NOIRLab Science Release | Gemini North | 2023 Apr 05

Gemini North helps confirm nature of cosmic system on the verge of becoming a giant elliptical galaxy

Credit: Gemini Observatory/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/M. Zamani, J. da Silva
Astronomers using an array of ground- and space-based telescopes, including Gemini North on Hawai‘i, have uncovered a closely bound duo of energetic quasars — the hallmark of a pair of merging galaxies — seen when the Universe was only three billion years old. This discovery sheds light on the evolution of galaxies at “cosmic noon,” a period in the history of the Universe when galaxies underwent bursts of furious star formation. This merger also represents a system on the verge of becoming a giant elliptical galaxy.

Galaxies grow and evolve by merging with other galaxies, blending their billions of stars, triggering bursts of vigorous star formation, and often fueling their central supermassive black holes to produce luminous quasars that outshine the entire galaxy. Some of these mergers eventually go on to become massive elliptical galaxies that contain black holes that are many billions of times the mass of our Sun. Although astronomers have observed a veritable menagerie of merging galaxies with more than one quasar in our own cosmic neighborhood, more distant examples, seen when the Universe was only a quarter of its current age, are quite rare and extremely challenging to find.

By harnessing a bevy of ground- and space-based observatories — including Gemini North, one half of the International Gemini Observatory, operated by NSF’s NOIRLab — a team of astronomers has discovered a closely bound pair of actively feeding supermassive black holes — quasars. This discovery is the first confirmed detection of a pair of supermassive black holes in the same galactic real estate at ‘cosmic noon’ — a period of frenetic star formation at a time when the Universe was only three billion years old.

A Dual Quasar Shines Light on Two Supermassive Black
Holes on a Collision Course Inside a Galaxy Merger

W.M. Keck Observatory | 2023 Apr 05

Hubble Unexpectedly Finds Double Quasar in Distant Universe
NASA | GSFC | STScI | HubbleSite | 2023 Apr 05

A close quasar pair in a disk–disk galaxy merger at z = 2.17 ~ Yu-Ching Chen et al
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