Below, this article dives into quasars and pulsars, and how they differ.
Then we’ll answer some common questions about quasars.
Quasar vs Pulsar: Explained
Quasars and pulsars have quite a few similarities between them, as well as some differences.
Both objects emit great amounts of electromagnetic radiation and the light from them can be seen on Earth.
Quasars are, essentially whole galaxies and are quite big compared to pulsars.
Quasars are also brighter than pulsars, emit more energy, and don’t rotate as pulsars do.
But pulsars are denser.
In terms of distance from Earth, pulsars are relatively closer, being hundreds of light-years away.
On the other hand, quasars are usually located millions of light-years away from Earth.
Are quasars black holes?
Black holes are massive, dense objects in space.
Their force of gravity is thought to be so strong that even light can’t escape it.
A quasar may be thought of as a gigantic black hole.
To classify as a quasar, the black hole must be supermassive — millions of times more massive than our Sun.
The black hole must also be an active one, that “feeds” on the matter.
Active black holes consume planets, stars, and other celestial bodies and continue to grow in size.
Such black holes are usually located at the center of very large galaxies.
Are quasars stars?
When viewed through a telescope, a quasar may seem like any other star in space, but it’s actually quite different from a star.
Quasars are simply too big to be categorized as stars.
As discussed earlier, quasars are essentially galaxies or supermassive black holes and can be millions of times more massive than the Sun.
Stars, on the other hand, are more compact and dense.
Their size is comparable to that of the Sun instead of the size of a galaxy.
Are quasars dangerous?
A quasar is a giant galaxy that feeds on matter so having one nearby won’t be good.
Quasars do feed on nearby planets and stars, obliterating them.
They’re much more massive than our Sun and release a lot of energy.
But they are so many light-years away from Earth that they can’t directly affect our planet in any manner.
So, yes, quasars may seem dangerous but the threat they pose is only limited to celestial bodies situated near them.
Are quasars rare?
To date, around a million quasars have been discovered.
Since so many of them have been discovered, quasars may not be classified as rare.
But scientists have discovered that quasars were more common billions of years ago, in the early days of the universe.
A possible explanation for this is that in the past, galaxies/black holes had more matter to feed on.
But as the matter reduced over time, the galaxies stopped feeding and became inactive.
In other words, they stopped being quasars.
Are quasars real?
Yes, quasars are real, massive galaxies in space.
They were first discovered as sources of radio waves from the late 1950s to the early 1960s.
Subsequent research and experiments conducted in the 1970s confirmed the existence of quasars, their properties, and their structure.
Much later, quasars were observed in more detail with the help of the Hubble Space Telescope and were found to be situated in the centers of galaxies.
How are quasars formed?
Quasars are thought to be formed when a supermassive black hole has enough matter in its surroundings to form an accretion disk.
An accretion disk is the flow of matter in a spiral direction around the black hole.
The flow of energy also gives out light, which we can observe from Earth.
This accretion disk generates the energy needed to power the black hole.
Some theories also suggest that quasars can only be formed in young, active galaxies that have a supermassive black hole and enough matter around them to power the quasar.
Galaxies that are old or don’t have enough matter are not likely to become quasars.
Where is the closest quasar?
The nearest quasar to our galaxy that has been identified to date is Markarian 231.
It is believed to be between 500 and 600 million light-years away from Earth.
It belongs to a large, active group of galaxies and is in the Ursa Major constellation.
Research also suggests that the galaxy/quasar may be powered by two massive black holes instead of one.
Quasars are quite different from pulsars in terms of size, mass, and energy.
Quasars are formed when a supermassive black hole forms an accretion disk inside an active galaxy.
They’re many times more massive than our Sun and are situated millions of light-years away from Earth.
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