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The team therefore used an innovative method to study the quasar: using the stars in an intervening galaxy as a scanning microscope to probe features in the quasar's disc that would otherwise be far too small to see. As these stars move across the light from the quasar, gravitational effects amplify the light from different parts of the quasar, giving detailed colour information for a line that crosses through the accretion disc.
This picture shows a quasar that has been gravitationally lensed by a galaxy in the foreground, which can be seen as a faint shape around the two bright images of the quasar. Observations of one of the images show variations in color over time. This is caused by stars within the lens galaxy passing through the path of the light from the quasar, magnifying the light from different parts of the quasar's accretion disc as they move. This has allowed a team of scientists to reconstruct the color and temperature profile of the accretion disc with unprecedented precision. The level of detail involved is equivalent to being able to study individual grains of sand on the surface of the Moon while standing on Earth. Credit: NASA, ESA and J.A. Muñoz (University of Valencia)
(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists have used the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to observe a quasar accretion disc -- a glowing disc of matter that is slowly being sucked into its galaxy's central black hole. Their study makes use of a novel technique that uses gravitational lensing to give an immense boost to the power of the telescope. The precision of the method has allowed astronomers to directly measure the disc's size and temperature across different parts of the disc.
An international team of astronomers has used a new technique to study the bright disc of matter surrounding a faraway black hole. Using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, combined with the gravitational lensing effect of stars in a distant galaxy, the team measured the disc's size and studied the colours (and hence the temperatures) of different parts of the disc. These observations show a level of precision equivalent to spotting individual grains of sand on the surface of the Moon.
Originally posted by whatsinaname
that is one astounding photograph =O I guess its about time I admited black holes are 'real' then >_> (ignoring the negative pressure gravity well thing a moment, its there, it does things, it exists.)
soo was this at sagitarius A* or somewhere else entirely? s&f for you op ^_^ im gunna be in space mode all week now.
Originally posted by BrianDamage
Video or it didn't happen!!!!
Seriously, brilliant post!
Still trying to understand it, but I'll get there.
This result is very relevant because it implies we are now able to obtain observational data on the structure of these systems, rather than relying on theory alone," says Muñoz. "Quasars' physical properties are not yet well understood. This new ability to obtain observational measurements is therefore opening a new window to help understand the nature of these objects."