A quasar – nicknamed the Teacup because of its shape – is causing a storm in galaxy about 1.1 billon light-years from Earth. The power source of the quasar, astronomers say, is a supermassive black hole at the galaxy’s center.
A statement from the Chandra X-Ray Observatory explains:
As matter in the central regions of the galaxy is pulled toward the black hole, it is energized by the strong gravity and magnetic fields near the black hole. The infalling material produces more radiation than all the stars in the host galaxy. This kind of actively growing black hole is known as a quasar.
The Teacup’s host galaxy – officially known as SDSS 1430+1339 – was discovered in 2007. New data from Chandra and ESA’s XMM-Newton mission are giving astronomers an improved understanding of the history of this galactic storm. A study describing these results will be published March 20, 2019, in The Astrophysical Journal Letters (preprint here). Read more about what astronomers are learning about the Teacup from the Chandra X-Ray Observatory here.
Bottom line: A quasar nicknamed the Teacup is causing a storm in a distant galaxy.
Eleanor Imster has helped write and edit EarthSky since 1995. She was an integral part of the award-winning EarthSky radio series almost since it began until it ended in 2013. Today, as Lead Editor at EarthSky.org, she helps present the science and nature stories and photos you enjoy. She also serves as one of the voices of EarthSky on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and G+. She and her husband live in Tennessee and have two grown sons.