With the help of the Hubble Space Telescope was first obtained an image of a quasar accretion disc. Quasar is a bright matter in the form of a disc, which is sucked into the black hole at the center of the galaxy at a rate such that it begins to glow. This study has been applied an innovative technique of gravitational lenses - celestial objects that enhance the signals passing through them. This allowed astronomers to directly measure the size of the first disc and the temperature of its different regions. Accuracy of the observations is equivalent to discern the individual grains of sand on the surface of the moon.
Although the black holes themselves are invisible, but they are drawn into the matter himself with so much force that it creates the most striking phenomenon in the universe. Quasars - it’s shining disc of matter that is drawn into the black holes, heating up and emitting extremely bright light.
"The typical quasar accretion disc has a size of a few light-days, or around 100 billion kilometers in width, but they are billions of light years away. Which means that their visible from the Earth’s size is so small that we will probably never be to have such a powerful telescope that would allow them to see the structure, "- said Jose Munoz, who led the study.
Such small size of quasars meant that all our knowledge of their internal structure based on theoretical extrapolations, rather than direct observations.
This study used an innovative method for studying quasars: Star located between us and the quasar galaxy acted as a scanning microscope, which allowed to see the disk of the quasar. The gravitational force of these stars amplifies the light of a quasar, giving detailed color information.
They found that the size of the disk compelling cost of 4 to 11 days in the width of light (about 100 - 300 000 000 000 kilometers).
"This result is very important because it will allow to obtain data on the structure of these systems, rather than relying on dry theory" - said Munoz. "The physical properties of quasars is poorly understood. Ability to receive data directly, will provide new opportunities for understanding the nature of these objects."