active galactic nuclei containing a massive black hole

A quasar (also called quasi-stellar object, abbreviated QSO) is an extremely luminous active galactic nucleus (AGN), in which a supermassive black hole with mass ranging from millions to billions of stellar masses (denoted M) is surrounded by a gaseous accretion disk. Active galactic nuclei are the most luminous persistent sources of electromagnetic radiation in the universe.

An artist’s impression showing the surroundings of a supermassive black hole, typical of that found at the heart of many galaxies.
A growing black hole, called a quasar, can be seen at the center of a faraway galaxy in this artist's concept.


  • We seem to live in a remarkably economical X-ray universe, in that the observed cosmic X-ray background (CXRB) is produced with almost the least cosmic effort possible. It is not dominated by luminous obscured quasars thundering out huge amounts of power at z ≈ 2–4 but rather by moderate-luminosity, obscured AGNs at z ≈ 0.5–2.
    • William N. Brandt and David M. Alexander: (2010). "Supermassive black-hole growth over cosmic time: Active galaxy demography, physics, and ecology from Chandra surveys". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107 (16): 7184–7189. ISSN 0027-8424. DOI:10.1073/pnas.0914151107.
  • LOFAR is a new European radio interferometer operating at frequencies 15–240 MHz (van Haarlem et al., 2013) and represents a milestone in terms of radio survey speed compared to existing telescopes. The LOFAR Surveys Key Science Project aims to carry out a tiered survey. ... These surveys will open the low-frequency electromagnetic spectrum for exploration, allowing unprecedented studies of the radio population across cosmic time and opening up new parameter space for searches for rare, unusual objects such as high-z radio quasars in a systematic way. Perhaps, one of the most tantalizing prospects are the 21 cm absorption line measurements using LOFAR along sight lines toward z > 6 radio quasars.
    • Edwin Retana-Montenegro and Huub Röttgering: (2018). "On the selection of high-z quasars using LOFAR observations". Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences 5. DOI:10.3389/fspas.2018.00005.
  • The continuum spectrum of a quasar can often be described, over a broad frequency range, by a power law of the form         ... where   is the spectral index.   = 0 corresponds to a flat spectrum, whereas   = 1 describes a spectrum in which the same energy is emitted in every logarithmic frequency interval.

Also seeEdit

External linksEdit

  •   Encyclopedic article on Quasar at Wikipedia
  •   The dictionary definition of quasar at Wiktionary