Quasars are shining, active super massive black holes shaping their galaxies of residence. Often times seen from a far distance, with the aid of a telescope, quasars are among the shiniest objects in the universe. Away from the definition semantics, scientists have decided to use its NASA’s Webb Telescope to study six out of its most far-flung and luminous quasars, alongside its host galaxies.
Webb wants to experiment and find the primary roles quasars play in early days galaxy evolution. They are going back into the past to use the quasars to study the gas in the space between galaxies in the infant universe. This can only be possible with Webb’s extreme sensitivity to low levels of light and its superb angular resolution.
Many often wonder what Quasars are….
They are very bright, distant and active super massive black holes which are millions to billions of times same mass as the Sun. They outshine other stars combined and are found at the centers of galaxies, feeding on infilling matter to unleash fantastic torrents of radiation .Its jets and winds shapes the galaxy in which it habitats in.
A team of scientists will later this year through NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope study about six most distant and luminous quasars , noting the features of these quasars and their host galaxies, and how interconnected they are during the first stages of galaxy evolution in the early era. They will also be experimenting the gas in the space between galaxies, especially cosmic deionization period which came to an end during the early years of the universe.
Santiago Arribas, Research Professor at the Department of Astrophysics of the Center for Astrobiology in Madrid, Spain, and member of Webb’s Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) Instrument Science Team, was emphatic when he explained:
“All these quasars we are studying existed very early, when the universe was less than 800 million years old, or less than 6 percent of its current age. So these observations give us the opportunity to study galaxy evolution and super massive black hole formation and evolution at these very early times”.
Chris Willott, who is a research scientist at the Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Centre of the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) in Victoria, British Columbia and also the Canadian Space Agency’s Webb project scientist, further opined that the team would want to observe these quasars at the moment when they’re having the largest impact on their host galaxies.
In his words:
”We’re interested in observing the most luminous quasars because the very high amount of energy that they’re generating down at their cores should lead to the largest impact on the host galaxy by the mechanisms such as quasar outflow and heating.”
Light emissions from Quasars have been stretched due to the expansion of space known as cosmological red shift. In this process, If the light extends far, the affects and prolongs its shift.
In fact, the visible light radiating outwardly at the early stage of the universe is stretched so that it is shifted out into the infrared when it gets to us here. Webbhas infrared instruments that is uniquely suited to studying this kind of light.
Webb researchers will use quasars as background light sources to study the gas between us and the quasar. The gas absorbs the quasar light through a technique known as imaging spectroscopy. The brighter the quasar light shines, the stronger those absorption line features will be visible in the spectrum. With the gas being in its neutral or ionized state, researchers will learn how neutral the universe is. Also how much of this deionization process has occurred in time past.