Astronomers Monday announced the discovery of a record eruption from a quasar 2 billion light years away, an unimaginable three-minute burst of energy that, when viewed from Earth, rivaled the total output of the sun over nearly 1 million years.
"Quasars, even in their quiet state, are really mind boggling in how much energy they radiate," said astronomer Ronald Remillard, co-author of a paper on the flare presented Monday at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Philadelphia."That's just part of why so many astronomy researchers are working on trying to really nail down the last secrets about them because it's just phenomenal what they do."
A Japanese satellite named "Ginga" - Galaxy - recorded the X-ray burst from quasar PKS 0558-504 in the constellation Orion at 8:12 p.m. EST Nov. 13, 1989. The quasar is believed to be 2 billion light years from Earth, so far that light, traveling 186,000 miles per second, took 2 billion years to cover the distance.
Remillard said the signal detected by Ginga indicated a record three-minute eruption equal to the sun's total energy output over nearly 1 million years, assuming the outburst was spread evenly in all directions.