The brightest blazar shines on the Earth. What does this mean for the planet?

What is blazar?

Blazars are a special class of active galactic nuclei formed by supermassive

black holes feeding on a huge amountgas, dust and stars falling into them. When material enters a black hole, it heats up to incredible temperatures, causing the emission of luminous jets of matter and radiation that travel at speeds close to the speed of light. The blazar jets can be so powerful that they can punch holes in galaxies.

The name of blazars comes from the designationthe first studied representative of this class "BL Lac" and "quasar", while playing on the match with the English blaze "blaze, blaze". The name was proposed in 1978 by astronomer Edward Spiegel.

Blazap is the core of the active galaxy, turned"Face", therefore, the relativistic jet is directed to our planet. The material tends to them, therefore, regular nutrition is needed. At these points, the gravitational pressure is only increased so that the temperature of the material is raised to a million degrees, generating a gigantic flux of radiation.

The black hole spins at an incredibly fast rate, creatingPowerful magnetic field. It breaks the material into the jets that burst above or below the hole. When the material falls into the old state, it will speed up almost to the speed of light and will run away for hundreds of thousands of light years.

Watching the blazer, you can see the progress of the feedinggalactic "face". Even if the blazar is 9 billion light years away, its light is still bright enough to fit into the lenses of a green TV.

How do they work?

Blazars are active galactica nucleus with a supermassive black hole in the center of the galaxy, emitting jets of plasma in the form of ionized matter outward in the entire spectrum of electromagnetic radiation. They are similar to quasars and were initially considered quasars, only there are significant differences.

Blazars as a type of objects contain two subtypes:

  • lacertids. The typical example that gave the name to the entire subtype is BL Lacertae.
  • optically fast-variable quasars are a group of quasars, which are characterized by high-amplitude brightness variability in the optical range (Δm ≥ 3m). A typical example is 3C 279. Typically have stronger emission lines in the optical spectrum than BLA and are much more active in the radio range.

Blazar ЗС 454.З, updated December 2, 2009 with the help of Fermi's space gamma

Objects of this class show variabilitybrightness at different wavelengths and time scales from hours to tens of years, exhibit high (up to 10%) and variable linear polarization of radiation in all spectral ranges (up to 10%).

Due to the fact that the jet is directed towards the observer and the high velocity of the plasma in the jet (95–99% of the speed of light), apparent superluminal motions are observed near the blazar core.

Observing the blazar is extremely important. Most of them are oriented differently and therefore their light is too weak to be seen.

Silvia Belladitta, PhD student at the University of Insubria in Italy

What size are the blazars?

Средний размер блазара небольшой по космическим measures ~ 30 billion km. It's like 6 distances between the Sun and Pluto. The jets extend over a distance of over 100,000 light years. That is, larger than the size of the Milky Way galaxy.

Many of the brighter blazars were firstidentified not as powerful distant galaxies, but as irregular variable stars in our own galaxy. These blazars, like true irregular variable stars, changed brightness during periods of days or years, but without a pattern.

An image of the Markarian 501 blazar from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey that shows a bright core and an elliptical host galaxy.


Also for blazars is atypical fastmotion of particles in jets with mass (electrons, protons, positrons). Their speed ranges between 95% and 99.9% of the speed of light. For comparison, if you disperse an ordinary ball weighing 7 kg to 99.9% of the speed of light, you will need all the energy produced by humanity, generated during the week.

Blazar accelerates the total mass of particles at a timeto such speeds, comparable to the mass of Jupiter and more. A separate group of blazars is referred to as teraelectronvolt blazars, since the released energy is an order of magnitude higher than gigaelectronvolts in quasars and some blazars.


The observed emission of the blazar is significantlyamplified by relativistic effects in the jet, a process called relativistic radiation. The volumetric velocity of the plasma that makes up the jet can be 95–99% of the speed of light.

This volumetric velocity is not velocitya typical electron or proton in a jet. Individual particles move in many directions, resulting in a net plasma velocity in the specified range.

How did you find the blazar that "shines" on the Earth?

Scientists have discovered the oldest and farthestblazar, a supermassive black hole that spews a staggering amount of light at the edge of space and time. It was found by a group of scientists led by a graduate student of the University of Insubria in Italy, Silvia Belladitta, and received the PSO index J030947.49 + 271757.3 (or PSO J0309 + 27 for short).

Blazar found a VLBA complex of tenradio telescopes monitored remotely from the center. This object is almost 13 billion years old. Scientists were able to detect the blazar only because of its power: it is so "radio-loud" that it shines even from afar.

It is the brightest RF blazar ever seen at this distance. It is also the second brightest blazar to emit X-rays at this distance.

Bill Saxton, NRAO / AUI / NSF.

Blazar characteristics PSO J0309 + 27

Belladitta and her colleagues were able to detect PSOJ0309 + 27 after bringing together data from several observatories: the NRAO antenna array in New Mexico (USA), the telescope in Hawaii (Pan-STARRS), and the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer space telescope.

The spectrum obtained confirmed that PSO J0309 + 27is the center of a galaxy that is very far from us, as evidenced by a redshift with a record value of 6.1, which has never been observed in a similar object.

In addition, measurements were required usingLarge Binocular Telescope (LBT) in Arizona to confirm that this object is the most distant and oldest blazar ever observed. Further study of the blazar using NASA's Swift Space Telescope has shown that it is also the most powerful.

Supermassive black hole at the heart of PSO J0309 +27 is about a billion times more massive than the Sun. By comparison, the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way is only four million times more massive than the Sun.

Why is this discovery interesting?

The discovery of PSO J0309 + 27 sheds light on the origin of supermassive black holes, which are now abundant in the entire Universe and which influence its evolution.

Thanks to our discovery, we can say that inDuring the first billion years of the universe's life, there were a large number of very massive black holes emitting powerful relativistic jets. This imposes severe restrictions on theoretical models that try to explain the origin of the huge black holes in our universe.

Silvia Belladitta, PhD student at the University of Insubria in Italy

Other ancient blazars are likely to be detected by the new generation of hypersensitive telescopes. These objects will provide a glimpse into the early universe.

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