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University Of Wyoming Team Catalogs 750,000 Quasars

European Southern Observatory/M. Kornmesser

A team of astronomy students at the University of Wyoming have compiled the largest ever catalog of quasars.

"Every galaxy has a supermassive blackhole at the center that we're aware of, but they aren't all drawing in material at the same time. It's the actual process of drawing in the material which causes the whole thing to release a lot of light. That thing itself is the quasar," explained UW graduate student Brad Lyke.

Lyke compiled a database of 750,000 quasars. He said he taught a computer to recognize the signatures of a quasar and to pick them out. Lyke said the database is important for future studies of the blackholes.

"There's a lot of people who want to know what they are because we don't really understand them very well," he said. "Being able to provide them with a very large catalog of quasars lets them study the physics of quasars so we can finally understand what's happening."

Lyke said that as more quasars are discovered, they will be added to the database.

Have a question about this story? Please contact the reporter, Ashley Piccone, at apiccone@uwyo.edu

Ashley is a PhD student in Astronomy and Physics at UW. She loves to communicate science and does so with WPM, on the Astrobites blog, and through outreach events. She was born in Colorado and got her BS in Engineering Physics at Colorado School of Mines. Ashley loves hiking and backpacking during Wyoming days and the clear starry skies at night!
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