Black Holes in Vanishing Quasars have Eaten their Fill

Quasar spectrum overlaid upon an artist’s impression. See video below.

UW astronomy graduate student John Ruan and professor Scott Anderson have discovered distant quasars which have apparently disappeared. This new phenomenon is caused by a shortage in the supply of gas infalling onto the supermassive black holes in the quasars, leading to dramatic dimming of the quasars’ brightness over just a few years. This surprising discovery gives astronomers a real-time view of how black holes in the centers of galaxies grow, and potentially its effects on how galaxies evolve over cosmic time. Read more about the news articles in UW Today and Science.