A blazar is a type of galaxy, related to quasars and BL Lacertae objects, which displays extremely intense, broad and rapidly varying electromagnetic radiation. This emission is thought to originate from a plasma jet pointing in our direction, and is believed to be powered and accelerated by a super-massive black hole, perhaps as much as a billion time more massive than our Sun.

Blazars have the following characteristics:

  • It appears point-like on the sky. (Some have fuzzy nebulae around them, but most of the radiation comes from a point source.)
  • They have a "smooth" spectrum, i.e. flatter, and no strong absorption lines, as stars have.
  • The visible light they emit is often polarized.
  • The radiation in all frequencies varies more rapidly, and with greater intensity than that of a quasar.

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