“In a sense, we are saying that even such an ‘ordinary’ quasar as 3C273 displays brightness and temperatures far above the expected levels,” Kovalev says, “This means that our traditional theories about how quasars’ cores emit light are incorrect. Obviously, for a scientist, there is nothing more pleasant, exciting and successful than to get a result that does not comply with a theory, because this is the most effective way to push the scientific research further.”
So far, scientists have drafted at least four possible hypothesis to explain the oddball observations. According to one idea, the jet-producing machine inside quasars could be accelerating protons rather than electrons. But because protons as so much more massive, it would require an unfathomably powerful central engine to do this. “To put it simply, all four explanations have problems,” Kovalev says.
In the meantime, the Spektr-R space observatory presses on mission. Launched on a Ukrainian-built Zenit rocket on July 18, 2011, the satellite is about to exceed its five-year manufacturer warranty.Although harsh conditions of space, particularly radiation, are taking their toll on the spacecraft, the flight control team so far has managed to continue a productive scientific mission by switching to backup systems. According to Kovalev, technical issues have not yet degraded the scientific results.
Inspired by the success of Spektr-R, Russian scientists proposed a much more complex space radio telescope known as Spektr-M or Millimetron. The new instrument will be able to register millimeter and sub-millimeter bands of electromagnetic spectrum not only in conjunction with ground-based antennas but also on its own, peering farther into the Universe than any ground-based telescope can. Because of its high cost and many technical hurdles, though, Spektr-M is not expected to blast off into orbit before 2025.
Read more at: popularmechanics.com