A quasar (/ˈkweɪzɑːr/) (also known as a quasi-stellar object abbreviated QSO) is an extremely luminous active galactic nucleus (AGN), in which a supermassive black hole with mass ranging from millions to billions of times the mass of the Sun is surrounded by a gaseous accretion disk. As gas in the disk falls towards the black hole, energy is released in the form of electromagnetic radiation, which can be observed across the electromagnetic spectrum. The power radiated by quasars is enormous: the most powerful quasars have luminosities thousands of times greater than a galaxy such as the Milky Way.So far, the clumsily long name 'quasi-stellar radio sources' is used to describe these objects. Because the nature of these objects is entirely unknown, it is hard to prepare a short, appropriate nomenclature for them so that their essential properties are obvious from their name. For convenience, the abbreviated form 'quasar' will be used throughout this paper. A quasar (/ˈkweɪzɑːr/) (also known as a quasi-stellar object abbreviated QSO) is an extremely luminous active galactic nucleus (AGN), in which a supermassive black hole with mass ranging from millions to billions of times the mass of the Sun is surrounded by a gaseous accretion disk. As gas in the disk falls towards the black hole, energy is released in the form of electromagnetic radiation, which can be observed across the electromagnetic spectrum. The power radiated by quasars is enormous: the most powerful quasars have luminosities thousands of times greater than a galaxy such as the Milky Way. The term 'quasar' originated as a contraction of quasi-stellar radio source, because quasars were first identified during the 1950s as sources of radio-wave emission of unknown physical origin, and when identified in photographic images at visible wavelengths they resembled faint star-like points of light. High-resolution images of quasars, particularly from the Hubble Space Telescope, have demonstrated that quasars occur in the centers of galaxies, and that some host-galaxies are strongly interacting or merging galaxies. As with other categories of AGN, the observed properties of a quasar depend on many factors including the mass of the black hole, the rate of gas accretion, the orientation of the accretion disk relative to the observer, the presence or absence of a jet, and the degree of obscuration by gas and dust within the host galaxy. Quasars are found over a very broad range of distances, and quasar discovery surveys have demonstrated that quasar activity was more common in the distant past. The peak epoch of quasar activity was approximately 10 billion years ago. As of 2017, the most distant known quasar is ULAS J1342+0928 at redshift z = 7.54; light observed from this quasar was emitted when the universe was only 690 million years old. The supermassive black hole in this quasar, estimated at 800 million solar masses, is the most distant black hole identified to date. The term 'quasar' was first used in a paper by Chinese-born U.S. astrophysicist Hong-Yee Chiu in May 1964, in Physics Today, to describe certain astronomically-puzzling objects: Between 1917 and 1922, it became clear from work by Heber Curtis, Ernst Öpik and others, that some objects ('nebulae') seen by astronomers were in fact distant galaxies like our own. But when radio astronomy commenced in the 1950s, astronomers detected, among the galaxies, a small number of anomalous objects with properties that defied explanation. The objects emitted large amounts of radiation of many frequencies, but no source could be located optically, or in some cases only a faint and point-like object somewhat like a distant star. The spectral lines of these objects, which identify the chemical elements of which the object is composed, were also extremely strange and defied explanation. Some of them changed their luminosity very rapidly in the optical range and even more rapidly in the X-ray range, suggesting an upper limit on their size, perhaps no larger than our own Solar System. This implies an extremely high power density. Considerable discussion took place over what these objects might be. They were described as 'quasi-stellar radio sources', or 'quasi-stellar objects' (QSOs), a name which reflected their unknown nature, and this became shortened to 'quasar'. The first quasars (3C 48 and 3C 273) were discovered in the late 1950s, as radio sources in all-sky radio surveys. They were first noted as radio sources with no corresponding visible object. Using small telescopes and the Lovell Telescope as an interferometer, they were shown to have a very small angular size. Hundreds of these objects were recorded by 1960 and published in the Third Cambridge Catalogue as astronomers scanned the skies for their optical counterparts. In 1963, a definite identification of the radio source 3C 48 with an optical object was published by Allan Sandage and Thomas A. Matthews. Astronomers had detected what appeared to be a faint blue star at the location of the radio source and obtained its spectrum, which contained many unknown broad emission lines. The anomalous spectrum defied interpretation. British-Australian astronomer John Bolton made many early observations of quasars, including a breakthrough in 1962. Another radio source, 3C 273, was predicted to undergo five occultations by the Moon. Measurements taken by Cyril Hazard and John Bolton during one of the occultations using the Parkes Radio Telescope allowed Maarten Schmidt to find a visible counterpart to the radio source and obtain an optical spectrum using the 200-inch Hale Telescope on Mount Palomar. This spectrum revealed the same strange emission lines. Schmidt was able to demonstrate that these were likely to be the ordinary spectral lines of hydrogen redshifted by 15.8 percent—at the time, a high redshift (with only a handful of much fainter galaxies known with higher redshift). If this were due to the physical motion of the 'star', then 3C 273 was receding at an enormous velocity, around 47,000 km/s, far beyond the speed of any known star and defying any obvious explanation. Nor would an extreme velocity help to explain 3C 273's huge radio emissions. If the redshift were cosmological (now known to be correct), the large distance implied that 3C 273 was far more luminous than any galaxy, but much more compact. Also, 3C 273 was bright enough to detect on archival photographs dating back to the 1900s; it was found to be variable on yearly timescales, implying that a substantial fraction of the light was emitted from a region less than 1 light-year in size, tiny compared to a galaxy. Although it raised many questions, Schmidt's discovery quickly revolutionized quasar observation. The strange spectrum of 3C 48 was quickly identified by Schmidt, Greenstein and Oke as hydrogen and magnesium redshifted by 37%. Shortly afterwards, two more quasar spectra in 1964 and five more in 1965 were also confirmed as ordinary light that had been redshifted to an extreme degree.