NewsRadio Astronomy

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Quasar

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Science  12 Jul 1996:
Vol. 273, Issue 5272, pp. 182
DOI: 10.1126/science.273.5272.182


Quasars, thought to be the nuclei of very distant young galaxies, are astounding at the best of times, but now Australian radio astronomers have spotted a quasar with an impressive talent: It winks far faster than any quasar previously seen—varying its output by as much as 60% in half an hour. Astronomers are working hard to figure out how something so large can change so fast. Is it the bizarre effects of electrons moving close to the speed of light, or just gas clouds in our own galaxy making the quasar's light twinkle?