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News Release Archive:

News Release 729 of 948

November 19, 1996 09:00 AM (EST)

News Release Number: STScI-1996-35

Hubble Surveys the "Homes" of Quasars

November 19, 1996: Dramatic Hubble telescope pictures reveal that quasars live in a remarkable assortment of galaxies, many of which are violently colliding. This complicated picture suggests there may be a variety of mechanisms ? some quite subtle ? for "turning on" quasars, the universe's most energetic objects.

When seen through ground-based telescopes, these compact, enigmatic light sources resemble stars, yet they are billions of light-years away and several hundred billion times brighter than normal stars. The following Hubble snapshots offer examples of quasar home sites. Astronomers believe that a quasar turns on when a massive black hole at the center of a galaxy feeds on gas and stars.

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Credit: John Bahcall (Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton), Mike Disney (University of Wales), and NASA