A blazar within the early universe


Details in the galaxy beam 12.8 billion light years from Earth

National Radio Astronomy Observatory

Research news

PICTUREPICTURE: VLBA image of the blazar PSO J0309 + 27 at a distance of 12.8 billion light years from Earth. The core of Galaxy is in the lower right and the jet is propelled outward from the core. View More Credit: Spingola et al .; Bill Saxton, NRAO / AUI / NSF.

The super-hard radio vision of the National Science Foundation's Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) revealed previously unseen detail in a beam of material ejected at three-quarters the speed of light from the core of a galaxy about 12.8 billion light years away from Earth. The galaxy, named PSO J0309 + 27, is a blazar with its beam directed towards Earth, and the brightest radio-emitting blazar seen at such a distance to date. It's also the second brightest X-ray emitting blazar at such a distance.

In this picture the brightest radio emission comes from the core of the galaxy in the lower right corner. The beam is driven by the gravitational energy of a supermassive black hole in the core and moves outward to the top left. The jet shown here spans around 1,600 light years and shows structure in it.

At this distance, PSO J0309 + 27 is seen as if the universe were less than a billion years old, or just over 7 percent of its current age.

An international team of astronomers led by Cristiana Spingola from the University of Bologna in Italy observed the galaxy in April and May 2020. Their analysis of the properties of the object supports some theoretical models of why blazars are rare in the early universe. The researchers reported their results in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.


The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a National Science Foundation facility operated by Associated Universities, Inc. under a collaboration agreement.

CREDIT: Spingola et al .; Bill Saxton, NRAO / AUI / NSF.

From EurekAlert!

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