Could the Milky Way Become a Quasar?

Article written: 26 Feb , 2015
Updated: 27 Feb , 2017

There’s a supermassive black hole in the center of our Milky Way galaxy. Could this black hole become a Quasar?

Previously, we answered the question, “What is a Quasar”. If you haven’t watched that one yet, you might want to pause this video and click here. … or you could bravely plow on ahead because you already know or because clicking is hard.

Should you fall in the latter category. I’m here to reward your laziness. A quasar is what you get when a supermassive black hole is actively feeding on material at the core of a galaxy. The region around the black hole gets really hot and blasts out radiation that we can see billions of light-years away.

Our Milky Way is a galaxy, it has a supermassive black hole at the core. Could this black hole feed on material and become a quasar? Quasars are actually very rare events in the life of a galaxy, and they seem to happen early on in a galaxy’s evolution, when it’s young and filled with gas.

Normally material in the galactic disk orbits well away from the the supermassive black hole, and it’s starved for material. The occasional gas cloud or stray star gets too close, is torn apart, and we see a brief flash as it’s consumed. But you don’t get a quasar when a black hole is snacking on stars. You need a tremendous amount of material to pile up, so it’s chokes on all the gas, dust, planets and stars. An accretion disk grows; a swirling maelstrom of material bigger than our Solar System that’s as hot as a star. This disk creates the bright quasar, not the black hole itself.

Quasars might only happen once in the lifetime of a galaxy. And if it does occur, it only lasts for a few million years, while the black hole works through all the backed up material, like water swirling around a drain. Once the black hole has finished its “stuff buffet”, the accretion disk disappears, and the light from the quasar shuts off.

Sounds scary. According to New York University research scientist Gabe Perez-Giz, even though a quasar might be emitting more than 100 trillion times as much energy as the Sun, we’re far enough away from the core of the Milky Way that we would receive very little of it – like, one hundredth of a percent of the intensity we get from the Sun.

This annotated artist's conception illustrates our current understanding of the structure of the Milky Way galaxy. Image Credit: NASA

This annotated artist’s conception illustrates our current understanding of the structure of the Milky Way galaxy. Image Credit: NASA

Since the Milky Way is already a middle aged galaxy, its quasaring days are probably long over. However, there’s an upcoming event that might cause it to flare up again. In about 4 billion years, Andromeda is going to cuddle with the Milky Way, disrupting the cores of both galaxies. During this colossal event, the supermassive black holes in our two galaxies will interact, messing with the orbits of stars, planets, gas and dust.

Some will be thrown out into space, while others will be torn apart and fed to the black holes. And if enough material piles up, maybe our Milky Way will become a quasar after all. Which as I just mentioned, will be totally harmless to us. The galactic collision? Well that’s another story.

It’s likely our Milky Way already was a quasar, billions of years ago. And it might become one again billions of years from now. And that’s interesting enough that I think we should stick around and watch it happen. How do you feel about the prospects for our Milky Way becoming a quasar? Are you a little nervous by an event that won’t happen for another 4 billion years?

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16 Responses

  1. btraymd says

    There is so much unproven about “black holes” and the newest addition “accretion discs” that the entire topic resembles more of a religion than a science. I find the invention of the “accretion disc” to be overly convenient. Like most of the tenets put forth by cosmologists today, it can neither be observed or confirmed. This of course was necessary to correct the failed idea of “gravity so intense even light can’t escape”. This was clearly not correct as intense electromagnetic energy can now be seen entering and exiting black holes. It seems more likely that a “black hole” is a cosmic plasmoid, part of an electrically connected universe. Intergalactic Birkeland currents (and their magnetic fields) have now been identified by Chandra and are truly massive. Star formation appears to be occurring at the Z pinch of these currents. There is tremendous accretion force at a Z pinch and does not require black holes or gravity for star formation. Anthony Peratt’s work in plasma physics at Los Alamos has demonstrated spiral galaxy formation with the necessary velocities such that dark matter/energy is not required. All of the mathematical constructs (black holes, dark matter, neutron stars, etc.) of the standard model are necessary because gravity is infinitely weak. Electromagnetic forces are 10 to the 39th more powerful than gravity which approaches infinity for all practical purposes. They alone can provide adequate force for planet, star and galaxy formation.
    Recently there have been found massive galaxies that formed very early in the universe, too early for them to be formed by gravity. This is good evidence that they formed more quickly under the pressure of far more powerful forces, of which electromagnetic must be considered the most likely.
    Recent work by Halton Arp (a student of Edmund Hubble) at the Max Planck Institute showed many quasars in close association with galaxies. This work strongly suggested that red shift was a product of age (not distance or velocity). Carl Sagan stated that this work would invalidate the big bang and inflation. The most recent data from Chandra is confirming his work.
    It also convincingly demonstrated that quasars were being “spun off” from galaxies. In other words, formed by the galaxy much like star formation.
    The idea of a “neutron star” has been theorized as a source of these quasars. I wonder how the first few neutrons began to coalesce during this accretion process? In the lab, neutrons fly apart wildly when the approach one another. This fact is conveniently overlooked by cosmologists today. The concept of a teaspoon of matter weighing the same as the entire earth is also a bit hard to swallow. The known laws of physics and chemistry are required to break down. That is quite an order just to save the failed gravitational models of cosmology.
    Perhaps it’s time to take a different viewpoint. One that will allow the preservation of the known laws of physics. One that is being validated on a daily basis from the newest radio telescope data. One that corresponds to observations, can be experimentally verified and has predictive value.
    Until astrophysicists and cosmologist improve their knowledge of plasma physics and electrical engineering it is unlikely they will be able to take this more scientific approach. They will continue to misinterpret their own data and soon become obsolete.
    For those wishing to address the future of cosmology a good starting point would be to listen to Donald Scott’s presentation to NASA at the Goddard Engineering Colloquia in 2009. It was well received and made a very sane case for the tremendous contributions that plasma physicists have to make to the understanding of the universe.

  2. mewo says

    Can we restore the ban on Electric Universe gibberish? Honest debate and discussion is fine, but this person is only interested in dumping long, stupid, almost identical walls of text on every story he sees and then running away to avoid having to answer the inevitable challenges to his ridiculous theory. It’s annoying and detracts from the site.

    • jc hanford says


    • btraymd says

      That’s the typical dismissive comment heard when one cannot respond to the facts that are stated in a theory. Nothing I stated as fact is incorrect and indicates serious failures in today’s cosmology no matter how many blind sheep are willing to follow the wrong road.
      One unproven theory is used to bolster another unproven theory in today’s cosmology. It really is time to back up and take a look at the mess that has been created. It just keeps getting weirder and weirder and none of the recent observations are correlating with the “standard model”. Just one contradiction after another.
      Even Einstein himself had serious misgivings about relativity. He died trying to resolve the fact that “spooky actions at a distance” indicated that C was not the Vmax of the universe. Even he realized that this would invalidate his theory. Tesla also saw this and referred to relativity as a “beggar in a purple road”.
      Instead of carrying on blindly, why not address the specific points that were mentioned which appear to invalidate today’s model of cosmology. There are many.
      Start with Halton Arp’s work on red shift or Anthony Peratt’s work in plasma physics replicating spiral galaxy formation.
      I guess that would be difficult unless you have at least a rudimentary knowledge of plasma physics. If your only tool is a hammer then every problem looks like a nail.

      • btraymd says

        I guess the NASA astrophysicists and engineers that invited Donald Scott to present the recent findings of plasma physicists to the Goddard Colloquia were just wasting every one’s time and needed a good laugh. Or not. Listening to this presentation might make you realize that a lot of the cosmologists today are having circular arguments that have nothing to do with the reality of the topics they are discussing.

      • mewo says

        I have posted several times about the Electric Universe predictions regarding the P67 and Tempel 1. I demonstrated that none of the predictions made by Electric Universe proponents came true. You never responded to any of those posts, but you did continually turn up to new stories to copy and paste the same junk over and over. This is the first time I’ve known you to reply to anyone, and it’s only because someone is threatening your ability to spam UniverseToday.

        What you are doing is spamming the site. I put you on the same level as the people who copy and paste everywhere “Wow! My brother’s neighbour’s cousin’s husband makes $200 an hour working from home” because their posts are as accurate as yours and they are also only interested in dumping their stupid posts without discussion.

      • btraymd says

        You are so invested in the “standard model” that you just refuse to (or are unable to) comprehend the facts being discovered today. Regarding the Electric model of comets, the recent NASA missions have indeed validated the electric models. As follows:
        The EU theory predicted the occurrence of a “lightening-like flash prior to impact”. As Peter Schulz (NASA investigator) wrote, “What you see is really surprising. First there is a small flash, then a delay, then there is a big flash and everything breaks loose”.
        The EU model predicted a loss of signal prior to impact due to the electrical interference caused by the comet and this was clearly observed 5-7 seconds prior to impact.
        The EU model predicted a much larger explosion due to the electrical contribution from the comet. This was the biggest surprise to NASA investigators who wrote, “How did we make such a big splash? We are at a loss to explain it”.
        The impact cloud was also c/w the electric model. It contained most fine particle of silicates, with little or no water. The temperatures recorded exceeded 6,000 degrees as recorded by the Swift satellite, viewing in UV. None of this was c/w a loose, snowy surface but that of a rocky hard surface as predicted by the EU model. As written in Cosmos Magazine (2-16-2011): The material that came out was a fine powdery material, not the water, ice and dirt that was expected. Charlie Qi (CfA) wrote: “Theories about volatile layers below the surface of short period comets are going to have to be revised”.
        EU also predicted a smaller than expected impact crater due to the rocky nature of the surface. NASA predicted a deep crater due to the loose, snowy surface. A very small crater was found, as Peter Schulz wrote: “How are we to understand the absence of a deep crater?” “The images did not show much of a crater”. He went on to theorize that all of the explosive material returned to the point of impact and the “crater healed itself”. Interesting idea that explosive material ejected at thousands of mph would return to it’s origins without any gravity of which to speak.
        NASA theorized that comet jets are due to pressurized subsurface volatile materials and they wanted to identify the “vents”. P C Thomas wrote in Icarus “…difficult to identify any landforms that can be identified as vents”. Actually shifting of the jets was predicted by EU due to sudden change in surface charge distribution. The Nordic optical scope in Spain recorded this change 15 hours after impact.
        The topography was also a great surprise to investigators. “Sharply defined craters with sculpted ridges were found..” as reported in the American Physical Society (Physics Central). The softened relief of a dirty snowball was not found. This sculpted, scalloped ridge topography is c/w ” an electrical arc applied to a negatively charged surface” according to C.J.Ramson.
        And finally, the water. There was scant surface water and only trace water in the impact debris. As Lucy McFadden (Co-Investigator, Deep Impact) wrote” What is significant is that the extent of this ice on Temple I is not sufficient to produce the observed abundance of water in the comet’s coma”. The trace surface water was less than 1% of that required.
        The water that was found in the Deep Impact Mission didn’t appear until 5 days after impact, after the impact dust had completely settled. “The water produced appeared 5-10 days after impact and increased to 40,000 tons per day” according to the Royal Astr. Soc. It is important to note that this was not accompanied by an increase in dust production. Comet outburst are never dust free. The water production was in fact seen with a marked production of xrays.
        In fact, the water production in the coma was the result of the cathodic etching of rock minerals combining with protons from the solar winds.
        Lucy McFadden also wrote: “The particle size of the water ice is greater than the icy grains in the coma and is probably re-condensed onto the surface.”
        You may want to re-examine your facts. You seem focused on the electric comet theories which have been thoroughly validated by virtually every comet mission that I have seen.
        These are really of secondary importance to the work of Anthony Peratt, a plasma physicist at Los Alamos NL. He has published remarkable results showing spiral galaxy formation using magnetism, electricity and plasma in his lab. These bodies also have the necessary velocities to form without the need for “dark matter”.
        You must have greater insight than NASA investigators who invited Donald Scott (The Electric Sky) to speak at the Goddard Engineering Colloqia in 2009. His presentation demonstrated the need for a thorough knowledge of plasma physics and electrical engineering to interpret the newest radio telescope data now being obtained. You would do well to listen to this presentation before dismissing any theories out of hand, especially given the complete lunacy of the current standard models of cosmology.

      • mewo says

        Unfortunately for you, none of those explanations stack up. Regarding the flashes, Electric Universe predicted a series of flashes *prior* to impact, but this is not what was seen. What happened was a flash *simultaneous* with the impact, when the projectile struck the comet and punched through its crust, and a second one when looser material from the interior was gouged out through the new hole. There were no flashes *before* the impact, and the projectile did not develop its own tiny cometary coma, contrary to Wal Thornhill’s predictions. The crater produced was about as wide as predicted beforehand, though not as deep, and contains a central mound showing that ejected material did indeed fall back into the crater. This explains its subdued shape. It also rules out a jet, because a long-lasting jet would have destroyed the central mound.

        The impactor returned its last image about 3 seconds before impact which, given that it could only transmit data at 8 kilobytes/s, is remarkably late. There is no evidence that it was destroyed prior to impact. Also, Philae is similar to the Deep Impact projectile in many ways. It is a big chunk of metal launched toward a comet. If the Deep Impact projectile was shorted out by electrical discharges, why did the same thing not happen to Philae? And why do none of the comets visited by spacecraft have strong magnetic fields if, as you claim, they are irregularly shaped rotating objects possessing a strong electrical charge? Your theory just makes no sense.

        Then there’s the water. Although the surface does not contain a lot of water ice, the stuff ejected from greater depths does contain substantial amounts of water ice. Wal Thornhill’s predictions that there would be no water found, and that there would be no difference between the interior and surface compositions, were wrong. The current view is that comets are composed of extremely cold, amorphous, ice in the interior with warmer crystalline ice above that, of course with rock and dirt mixed throughout, and a thin water-poor surface layer of rock and dust. This picture has been experimentally verified in the lab in the Himalaya experiment, and neatly explains how the interior stays cold even through perihelion passeges- the outer layers turn out to be good insulators.

        I’m not sure why you Electric Universe people need comets to be made of only rock anyway. Surely it would be easier for you if they were made of a more electrically conductive material. Unless you’re still invested in the idea that comets are bits of planetary crust crumbled off by electricity- which is preposterous.

        You keep mentioning the problems with the current mainstream views of cosmology. Even if they are wrong, it does not follow that yours are right. Some of your explanations are just plain bizarre. For example, take the Bullet Cluster. The Electric Universe explanation is that it is actually made of very small galaxies located in the Local Group, but for some reason we can’t resolve individual stars in any of its galaxies. Why is that? Nor can the Electric Universe model explain solar neutrinos, which are produced by nuclear reactions, if as you claim the Sun is powered by electricity. You also haven’t got an explanation for the cosmic microwave background. Real scientists aren’t going to abandon their current views of the Universe for one that’s not only demonstrably wrong, but underpants-on-head insane.

      • btraymd says

        I think the points that I made are correct and supported by the writings of the investigators and sources I referenced.
        Listen to Donald Scott’s presentation made to NASA at Goddard in 2009. I think you will have to agree there is a lot of merit to the theories put forth by these plasma physicists. The MMS mission is in part due to the theory of “magnetic reconnection” which was postulated to explain the IBEX and Voyager mission findings. This “reconnection” theory is strongly refuted by both Nobel winning plasma physicist Hannes Alfvens and Scott. Without the “reconnection” theory the standard model of nuclear fusion in the sun is in big trouble. The lack of adequate conduction velocities in the sun alone should be great cause for question.
        There are just so many concepts within the standard model that seem invalid and for which the electric models provide simple explanations.
        I firmly believe that once astrophysicists and cosmologists increase their knowledge of electromagnetism and plasma physics the newest data being received will be more correctly interpreted. This should lead to more unity and conformity between theory and observed reality. Today that is sorely lacking.

  3. Member
    Aqua4U says

    Perhaps the ‘electric universe’ btraymd is referring to is the next one over? LOL! This one is where the electric forces dominate? Then the ‘leakage’ between our universes, with individual and separate(d) physics might somehow create the humongous spinning cloud of plasma and the subsequent polar jets we see in quasars? The evidence being temporary but fitful episodes of ‘anti matter’ annihilation?

    • BCstargazer says

      From the rudimentary vocabulary used by the EU trolls(theories anyone, theories?), my guess is that in the big shampoo bottle of the multiverse, the EU is located within the conditioner …

      • Member
        Aqua4U says

        LOL! Now THAT is a theory I can get behind! The ‘big shampoo bottle in the sky’ THIS must mean that someone left the cap off the bottle and it is leaking… thus creating the Milky Way!

  4. btraymd says

    Instead of just stating incorrect information why don’t you go to Wal Thornhill’s predictions of Temple I published prior to the mission and visit his presentation of the mission findings, complete with comments from the principal investigators. You will find you are dead wrong.
    As far as spam, everything I have stated as fact is factually correct. If you want to object start with addressing the meat of the comments I have made. Of course the fact that they are completely correct will make that hard for you. Face it, you blindly followed a “snow job” as many other sheep have as well. The entire standard model is about to fall on it’s face, despite the whining and hand wringing from the unwise and unobservant faithful.

    • mewo says

      That is exactly what I did. Here’s what I posted regarding Wal Thornhill’s bogus predictions on an earlier thread (that you ignored).

      “Thornhill predicted that the Deep Impact projectile would develop its own tiny coma. Didn’t happen. He predicted it would short out due to being hit by an electrical arc. Didn’t happen. He predicted multiple craters from all the electric arcs. Nope, only one. He predicted the crater would be smaller than NASA expected due to impacting solid rock. Nope, wrong again, the crater was actually marginally bigger than the pre-impact prediction and more consistent with a rock-ice mix than with solid rock.

      He predicted the impact site would produce a new jet. No, didn’t happen. He predicted the surface and interior would have the same composition. Nope, wrong, the interior turned out to contain lots more water than the surface crust.

      Then there’s the fact that neither Rosetta nor Philae detected any kind of substantial magnetic field at Chury. Philae has a magnetometer sensitive enough to detect the magnetic fields produced by its own internal electronics and those of Rosetta, and this was used during Philae’s descent to track its rotation rate. Yet it detected nothing strange on the way down, no powerful cometary magnetic field. How can that be, if everything Chury does is governed by powerful electromagnetic forces? Hint: it can’t!

      Also, if the Deep Impact projectile caused strong electric arcs that shorted it out and produced the crater on Tempel 1, how come Philae didn’t do the same on Chury? The answer is that there were no arcs and your Electric Universe theory is stupid and wrong.”

      Are you going to try to debate, instead of making blatantly bogus accusations now? I won’t be holding my breath.

  5. weeasle says

    I have given up replying to btraymd because in a civil discourse a person can admit when they made an erroneous statement and whenever I point something out this person said that was erroneous, they go off on a side-argument or fling in something random, or just ignore the contradiction to his/her view and continue in blind support their EU “theory.”

    Since btraymd in his/her first post made a statement in direct contradiction with this article, for the benefit of readers here I will untangle his/her false claim.

    quoting btraymd:

    ‘There is so much unproven about “black holes” and the newest addition “accretion discs” that the entire topic resembles more of a religion than a science. I find the invention of the “accretion disc” to be overly convenient. Like most of the tenets put forth by cosmologists today, it can neither be observed or confirmed…’

    Well, a quick google search for “accretion disk observed around supermassive black hole” will get you dozens of links to articles quoting highly respected scientists and institutions which have direct observations and evidence of accretion disks (and jets) from supermassive black holes.

    Here are two separate, distinct direct observations of such phenomena by Hubble Space Telescope (of two different Galaxies/Quasars with accretion disks around SMBHs):

    Readers please keep your Carl Sagan baloney detector set to full power…

    btraymd – this is not a personal attack.. If you want to try to dismantle standard cosmology, go for it!! But if you want to push your EU “theory,” please give us a break and instead post a link to your site or blog instead to keep it shorter than the actual article you are commenting on…

Comments are closed.