Mar 21, 2024

Gaia maps largest ever collection of quasars in space and time

Posted by in categories: cosmology, mapping

Astronomers have created the largest yet cosmic 3D map of quasars: bright and active centres of galaxies powered by supermassive black holes. This map shows the location of about 1.3 million quasars in space and time, with the furthest shining bright when the Universe was only 1.5 billion years old.

The new map has been made with data from ESA’s Gaia space telescope. While Gaia’s main objective is to map the stars in our own galaxy, in the process of scanning the sky it also spots objects outside the Milky Way, such as quasars and other galaxies.

The graphic representation of the map (bottom right on the infographic) shows us the location of quasars from our vantage point, the centre of the sphere. The regions empty of quasars are where the disc of our galaxy blocks our view.

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