A distant quasar's brilliant light

The arrow in this image, taken by a ground-based telescope, points to a distant quasar the brilliant core of an active galaxy residing billions of light-years from Earth. As light from this faraway object travels across space, it picks up information on galaxies and the vast clouds of material between galaxies as it moves through them. The Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph aboard NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope decoded the quasar's light to find the spectral "fingerprints" of highly ionized (energized) oxygen, which had mixed with invisible clouds of hydrogen in intergalactic space. The quasar's brilliant beam pierced at least four separate filaments of the invisible hydrogen laced with the telltale oxygen. The presence of oxygen between the galaxies implies there are huge quantities of hydrogen in the universe.


WIYN Telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona. The telescope is owned and operated by the University of Wisconsin, Indiana University, Yale University, and the National Optical Astronomy Observatories.

About the Image

NASA press release
NASA caption
Release date:3 May 2000, 06:00
Size:700 x 700 px

About the Object

Name:Interstellar Hydrogen, Quasar
Type:Early Universe : Nebula : Type : Interstellar Medium
Early Universe : Galaxy : Activity : AGN : Quasar
Category:Quasars and Black Holes

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