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Active galactic nucleus

An active galactic nucleus (AGN) is a compact region at the centre of a galaxy that has a much higher than normal luminosity over at least some portion, and possibly all, of the electromagnetic spectrum. Such excess emission has been observed in the radio, infrared, optical, ultra-violet, X-ray and gamma ray wavebands. A galaxy hosting an AGN is called an active galaxy. The radiation from AGN is believed to be a result of accretion of mass by the supermassive black hole at the centre of the host galaxy. AGN are the most luminous persistent sources of electromagnetic radiation in the universe, and as such can be used as a means of discovering distant objects; their evolution as a function of cosmic time also provides constraints on models of the cosmos. Hubble Space Telescope image of a 5000 light-year (1.5 kiloparsec) long jet being ejected from the active nucleus of the active galaxy M87, a radio galaxy. The blue synchrotron radiation of the jet contrasts with the yellow starlight from the host galaxy.
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