Physicists from Virginia Tech University observed the quasar blast while using an X-shooter instrument equipped on the European Southern Observatory's VLT
at the Paranal Observatory in Chile.
The quasar, named SDSS J1106+1939, is believed to eject 400 solar masses worth of material each year. It is five times more powerful than any previously recorded blasts according to Business Insider
. The mass is believed to be travelling at a speed of 8000 kilometers per second and is approximately one thousand light-years away from a supermassive black hole at the heart of SDSS J1106+1939.
Nahum Arav, leader of the team of scientists who discovered the quasar blast, told Science20
"We have discovered the most energetic quasar outflow known to date. The rate that energy is carried away by this huge mass of material ejected at high speed from SDSS J1106+1939 is at least equivalent to two million times the power output of the Sun. This is about 100 times higher than the total power output of the Milky Way galaxy – it's a real monster of an outflow."
According to National Geographic
, supermassive black holes are capable of swallowing our entire solar system, and are even known for ripping apart and swallowing stars. It is that same power that allows adjacent quasars to discharge materials at super high speeds.
Arav believes the discovery of this super outflow could solve some cosmic mysteries, including how the mass of a galaxy is linked to a central black hole mass. It may also explain why there are a relative few number of large galaxies across the universe. He went on to say
"I believe this is the smoking gun for several theoretical ideas that use the mechanical energy output of quasars to solve several important problems in the formation of galaxies and cluster of galaxies."
The entire team is excited about the discovery, but perhaps none more so than Arav, who said
“I’ve been looking for something like this for a decade, so it’s thrilling to finally find one of the monster outflows that have been predicted.”