Register this object in the high energy range It means that we are dealing with the most distant active galactic nucleus (AGN) yet discovered using the Cherenkov Telescope, which is currently operated at the observatory on the island of La Palma, Spain.
Based on the information obtained so far, we can say that OP 313 is a flat-spectrum radio quasar (FSRQ), belonging to a broader group of active galactic nuclei. These, in turn, are just galaxies with a supermassive black hole at their center, which is actively sucking up massive amounts of matter from its surroundings. Matter that falls on the black hole does not fall on it directly, but rather in a spiral, creating a large-scale accretion disk around the black hole, where the speed and friction of the matter cause an increase in temperature and a powerful emission of radiation. In the case of quasars, the glow surrounding the black hole outshines the rest of the galaxy and allows it to be seen at cosmic distances.
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Galaxy OP 313 was observed by the LST-1 telescope from December 10 to 14. The observations were directly prompted by information from the Fermi-LAT space telescope, which observed an increase in gamma-ray activity towards the galaxy. Shortly thereafter, other monitors also noticed an increase in visual activity. Data collected by the LST-1 telescope over just four days revealed high-energy radiation with voltages exceeding 100 gigaelectronvolts (GeV). Suffice it to mention here that this energy level is billions of times higher than visible radiation.
Thus, OP 313 joins an elite group of nine quasars known so far that emit such high-energy radiation. Located at a distance of about 8 billion light-years from Earth, it is the most distant active galactic nucleus and the second most distant source of high-energy radiation.
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Scientists also point out that monitoring distant sources of high-energy radiation is an extremely difficult task. Extragalactic background light (EBL), i.e. the collective radiation emitted by all objects outside the Milky Way, covering a wide range of the electromagnetic range, interacts with high-energy gamma radiation, weakening its stream. Hence, it is very difficult to see such radiation emitted by very distant space objects.
The LST science team will continue to monitor this source using LST-1. More observational information will increase the accuracy of the results, thus better estimating the effect of the EBL on high-energy radiation and creating a better description of the physical processes occurring in intergalactic space.
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