Has there been any study to suggest that either quasars of gamma ray bursts are more detectable from further distances in the universe?

I've read that quasars are the most powerful energy in the universe but gamma ray bursts are detectable from further distances. Logically one would think that if some entity's energy were detectable from further distances than another entity's energy, then it'd be the entity with more energy than the other.

I'm just looking to see if anyone has any definitive study references that suggest why either quasar or gamma ray bursts have more energy than the other and to explain why if true the one with less energy is visible from further distances than the one with more energy.

I'm not really an astrophysicist type guy but I do some reading and watch different scientific shows that interest my since a lot is still unknown, so I'm hopeful someone here more familiar with this can answer or clarify this for me or give me some references to anything that gives clue to any of this.

I apologize for not having direct reference to any readings I've read that bring about this question in my mind but I know I read something that said gamma ray burst are detectable from further distances than any other energy entity and I've also read quasars are the most powerful energy sources in the universe, so I'm just looking for some clarify on this topic whether right or wrong with anything further you can provide.


2 Answers 2


I think you may be mixing up "Energy" and "Power" a little here. Power is the rate of Energy output per time. If Power is the speed, then Energy is the distance travelled.

Quasars look like stars, from Earth, they give out a light, and while they do vary a little (or a lot) you would not expect to see new ones forming or existing ones fading away.

Gamma Ray Bursts are a short lived. While a quasar will emit more energy over it's long life. Gamma Ray Bursts are more powerful. They are formed mostly as a result of energy released in gravitational collapse during a hypernova. Moreover this energy is released in a narrow beam.

Imagine comparing a laser beam with a equivalent power light bulb. If the laser is pointing right at you, it appears much brighter than the bulb.

So the answers:

  • GRB are more powerful than quasars, but only last a short time.
  • GRB are form a beam of radiation.
  • So if a GRB and a quasar are equally distant, the GRB would appear brighter.
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Great explanation, I appreciate the clarification!! $\endgroup$
    – GambleNerd
    Dec 5, 2015 at 14:23

It was just a century ago that we learned through the careful observations of astronomer Edwin Hubble, that the universe extends far beyond our own Milky Way galaxy. Mysterious cosmic clouds, then categorized as 'nebulae', are actually galaxies like our own; gravitationally bound collections of stars, dust, gas, and collapsed matter. At the center of these structures lies a supermassive black hole, an object millions to billions of times the mass of our own star, the Sun. Today, we know quasars (quasi-stars) are really just galaxies which are actively consuming matter at its core, and we call them 'active galaxies'. Since most known active galaxies date back to the beginnings of the universe, we can surmise that most of the supermassive black hole growth in the universe occurred long ago.

Gamma ray bursts, of varying durations, are electromagnetic indications of intense nuclear interactions. These are thought to coincide with major stellar events like the final collapse and explosion after the nuclear fuel has been spent (supernova or hyper nova), or the collision/merger of neutron stars and/or black holes. And these phenomena have been seen right back to the beginnings of the universe, one example being GRB 090423 observed by the Swift mission.

So, in terms of scale, active galaxies might be consuming anywhere from 10 to 1000 solar masses of matter per year, while a GRB may only represent a one time event of seconds to hours for the conversion of matter, but the rate of that matter conversion is much higher. A neutron star may weigh anywhere from 1 to 3 solar masses.

So, both phenomena have been observed right back near the beginning of the universe, today estimated to be about 13.8 billion years ago.

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Astronomy Stack Exchange! Note that quasars and quasi-stars are distinct objects. $\endgroup$
    – HDE 226868
    Dec 20, 2016 at 21:16

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