Martin Elvis, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

Topic: "QUASARS ARE SIMPLE: how the 3 forms of radiation pressure determines quasar structure"  (Video)

Abstract: To a good approximation, all quasars are the same. Even over 13 Gyr of cosmic history and at power outputs that range of a factor of 10^6, the differences are subtle. This implies that there should be a simple underlying physical basis for all the many complicated-seeming forms of atomic emission and absorption that we see in quasar spectra. These features have been a mystery since quasar were discovered 50 years ago this month. I propose that ALL of this phenomenology is explained simply looking carefully at the three ways in which radiation can push on matter: electron scattering, atomic line driving, and solid state absorption in molecules and dust. The zones where each of these work, and fail, produce distinctive features. The sum of these features explains everything. Quasars are, in fact, simple.