Apparent Superluminal Motion in 3C279
November 4, 2003
Superluminal motion in quasar 3C279 is shown in a "movie" mosaic of five radio images made over seven years. The stationary core is the bright red spot to the left of each image. The observed location of the rightmost blue-green blob moved about 25 light years from 1991 to 1998, hence the changes appear to an observer to be faster than the speed of light or "superluminal". The motion is not really faster than light, the measured speed is due to light-travel-time effects for a source moving near the speed of light almost directly toward the observer. The blue-green blob is part of a jet pointing within 2 degrees to our line of sight, and moving at a true speed of 0.997 times the speed of light. These five images are part of a larger set of twenty-eight images made with the VLBA and other radio telescopes from 1991 to 1997 to study the detailed properties of this energetic quasar.
Topics: OVV quasars, Light, Astrophysics, light-travel-time effects, 3C 279, Faster-than-light, Radio telescope, Speed of light, Superluminal motion, Blazar, Quasar