Most distant blazar ever detected

A blazar in the early universe.

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National Science Foundation’s Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA)’s supersharp radio ‘vision’ revealed previously unseen jet details. The jet is emitting from a galaxy that lies almost 12.8 billion light-years from Earth.

Discovered in 2019, PSO J0309+27 is located some 12.8 billion light-years away from Earth. The galaxy, dubbed PSO J0309+27, is a blazar, with its jet pointed toward Earth. 

PSO J0309+27 is an active galactic nucleus or a galaxy whose central nucleus is exceptionally bright due to the presence, in its center, of a supermassive black hole fed by the gas and the stars it engulfs. Moreover, the PSO J0309+27 is the most powerful persistent radio source in the primordial Universe, within the first billion years since its formation.

It is the brightest radio-emitting blazar yet seen at such a distance. It also is the second-brightest X-ray emitting blazar at such a distance.

Scientists noted, “In this image, the brightest radio emission comes from the galaxy’s core, at the bottom right. The jet is propelled by the gravitational energy of a supermassive black hole at the core and moves outward toward the upper left. The jet seen here extends some 1,600 light-years and shows structure within it.”

Journal Reference:
  1. C. Spingola et al., Parsec-scale properties of the radio brightest jetted AGN at z > 6, Astronomy & Astrophysics (2020). DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/202039458