NASA Publishes Iranian Artist Illustration

Sunday, May 17, 2020 - 10:31

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has published an Illustration created by an Iranian artist, Nima Abkenar, which depicts a quasar, a type of active galactic nucleus, surrounded by a dusty donut shape (torus) and clumps called “clouds.”

According to the NASA report, once you leave the majestic skies of Earth, the word “cloud” no longer means a white fluffy-looking structure that produces rain. Instead, clouds in the greater universe are clumpy areas of greater density than their surroundings.

Space telescopes have observed these cosmic clouds in the vicinity of supermassive black holes, those mysterious dense objects from which no light can escape, with masses equivalent to more than 100,000 Suns.

There is a supermassive black hole in the center of nearly every galaxy, and it is called an “active galactic nucleus” (AGN) if it is gobbling up a lot of gas and dust from its surroundings.

The brightest kind of AGN is called a “quasar.” While the black hole itself cannot be seen, its vicinity shines extremely bright as matter gets torn apart close to its event horizon, its point of no return.

Scientists would expect that this outflow of gas would be smooth. Instead, it is clumpy, extending well beyond 1 parsec (3.3 light-years) from the black hole. Each cloud starts out small, but can expand to be more than 1 parsec wide — and could even cover the distance between Earth and the nearest star beyond the Sun, Proxima Centauri.

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