Quasars are a rare find. They simply aren’t found very often, and that’s not just the opinion of a couple rogue scientists or astronomers. That is the consensus, and one that has stood for some years. That is until now. Astronomers have hit the proverbial jackpot, as a team has managed to locate a quasar quartet in stunning fashion. The find is amongst the rarest observations in the astrological study and adds to the notion that we truly can’t possibly understand everything that is happening in the universe.

The team pointed out that typically, we’re talking about quasars that are no closer than 700 million light years to each other. That’s rare because it’s something that simply doesn’t happen that often. Quasars simply are not observed. Yet a quartet of them was observed by study lead Joseph Hennawi, of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy. He pointed out that, “The typical distance between any two quasars is about 100 million light-years, whereas we found four quasars within 700,000 light-years of each other,” and went on to also point out that the likelihood of something like this actually happening sits at “about 1 in 10 million.”

The odds are so small because they typically have a very short life. Quasars survive in galaxies that only last about 10 billion years, and in terms of making a discovery on something that far away – it’s an incredibly hard task to perform. Understanding something at that distance and with that type of short life – simply isn’t an easy task. It also isn’t a task that can be easily duplicated, either.

Credit: Hennawi & Arrigoni-Battaia, MPIA
Credit: Hennawi & Arrigoni-Battaia, MPIA

J. Xavier Prochaska of UC Santa Cruz pointed out that, “There are several hundred times more galaxies in this region than you would expect to see at these distances,” only adding to the confusion and difficulty in making this type of discovery. However, he wasn’t the only individual to weigh in on this issue and the findings. Others shared his sentiment for just how rare this find was.

Joseph Hennawi pointed out that, “If you discover something which, according to current scientific wisdom, should be extremely improbable, you can come to one of two conclusions: either you just got very lucky, or you need to modify your theory.” That is a mindset that many scientists and researchers have for the good reason. Sometimes, things that are found aren’t found because they’re happening, but rather because the methodology leading up to the find is flawed. This though seems to have happened out of legitimacy, which makes the findings all the more interesting.