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18 May 2018
Spanning much of modern astronomy, this is a story of how observations spawn radical scientific theories which — even when as extreme as the idea of a black hole with a billion times the mass of the Sun — can become accepted as mainstream.
In 1959, the Cambridge radio astronomy group published their third major (3C) catalogue of radio sources. By 1963, attempts to identify visible objects with radio sources revealed two objects — 3C 273 and 3C 48 — which looked star-like but whose properties were mysterious. Were these really very distant and extraordinarily luminous objects, or were they comparatively nearby but moving at relativistic speeds?
How can such objects now form a key component in our 2018 view of the Universe?
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