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Q&A: Galaxies, Galaxy Clusters, AGN, and Quasars

Q:
Can you tell me where I could find pictures of quasars. I am looking for one that is not strait. The pictures all show a strait beam a million light years long. They show very little drift. If a beam a million light years long took a million years to form it should swirl and drift ? If they took seconds to form they would look strait? When the beam extends outward from the center of the galaxy do they pass through layers that match up with other quasars in other galaxies?

A:
We are assuming that you are referring to the jets that are observed in connection with quasars, and active galactic nuclei. These jets tend to be fairly straight as long as the pressure in the jet is greater than that of the surrounding gas. Then they twist and break up into fuzzy blobs. In addition to the X-ray jets on our web site, you can view a large collection of radio jets at:
http://www.jb.man.ac.uk/atlas/
http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/newsdesk/archive/releases/1999/43/
Whether the jets match up with other quasars is controversial, but most astrophysicists believe that such matches are very likely coincidental.

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