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News Release 246 of 291

January 11, 1995 05:30 PM (EST)

News Release Number: STScI-1995-04

Surprising Hubble Images Challenge Quasar Theory

An American Astronomical Society Meeting Release

January 11, 1995: Astronomers report today that new observations from the Hubble telescope challenge 30 years of scientific theory about quasars, the most energetic objects in the universe. Hubble images show, to the surprise of researchers, that the environment surrounding quasars is far more violent and complex than expected, providing evidence of galactic collisions and mergers.

This Hubble picture provides evidence for a merger between a quasar and a companion galaxy. The bright central object is the quasar itself, located several billion light-years away. The two wisps on the left of the central object are remnants of a bright galaxy that have been disrupted by the mutual gravitational attraction between the quasar and the companion galaxy.

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Credit: John Bahcall, Institute for Advanced Study, NASA.