Fritz Zwicky and Walter Baade were
scientists studying the universe around 1930. Fritz and Walter
hypothesized that some very large stars "die" in a huge explosion
that rips them apart, and that all that would remain would be a very
small, dense and hot star. Fritz and Walter termed this type of star
a Neutron Star, since it would be composed entirely of
Jocelyn Bell was a graduate student
doing Astronomical research in the 1960's. Jocelyn used a relatively
new instrument, called a Radio Telescope, to do her research. A radio
telescope is much like a regular light telescope, except that instead
of forming an image using light, it forms an image using radio
energy. Radio telescopes are powerful instruments that allow us to
see the universe much more clearly than ever before. Jocelyn ended up
discovering a new type of star which seemed to blink on and off. She
called this new type of star a pulsar. A pulsar seems to blink on and
off because it's intensive gravity field only allows light to escape
from the poles and the star spins rapidly. It was later realized that
these pulsars and neutron stars are one and the same!
The strangest and perhaps most
mysterious objects in the universe are still not clearly understood.
They are called Quasi-stellar-radio-sources, or QUASARS for short.
Quasars are seen about 15 billion light years from Earth, making them
the most distant objects ever observed. They emit the energy of
thousands of galaxies! (Remember that just one galaxy is likely to
contain 100-200 billion stars...so QUASARS are incredibly bright!) We
really don't know what a Quasar is. Even its name is deceiving.
"Quasi" means "kind of like", "Stellar" means "star". So all we
really know is that a quasar is "kind of like a star". That really
doesn't tell us much, does it? Remember, Science doesn't always have
ALL of the answers we seek. The fundamental aim of all science is to
DISCOVER THE ANSWERS. TO SEEK OUT NEW
BOLDLY GO WHERE NO MAN HAS GONE BEFORE!