Knotted Jets and Odd Quasars Reveal Secrets by Radio

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Science  18 Feb 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5456, pp. 1195-1196
DOI: 10.1126/science.287.5456.1195

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SAGAMIHARA, JAPAN-- Radio astronomers gathered here last month to review early results of the first radio observation program that makes use of a space-based antenna, the Highly Advanced Laboratory for Communications and Astronomy (HALCA), and related topics. HALCA, in combination with ground-based telescopes, is helping answer some long-standing questions, such as what drives the immense jets of gas that shoot from the highly energetic objects known as active galactic nuclei. And another puzzle, centering on distant objects whose radio emissions vary drastically over periods as short as a few hours, appears to have been solved for one radio source, at least. Australian radio astronomers reported strong evidence that the emissions don't really wax and wane at all, but are due to a scintillation in gas and dust between the stars.