Maarten Schmidt, the Dutch-born American astronomer whose discovery of quasars dramatically changed our understanding of the evolution of the cosmos and revealed the power and potency of the beasts that roam deep space, has died at his home in Fresno.
A professor emeritus at Caltech, Schmidt died Saturday at 92.
Schmidt had only recently arrived at Caltech when he ascended in the observing cage of the great Palomar Mountain telescope to try to understand measurements radio astronomers were getting from a bizarre object that should have been a star but couldn’t possibly be.
The object, known as 3C273 in the flavorless argot of astronomy, was 3 billion light years away, a good chunk of the way back to the Big Bang. Yet it was hundreds of times brighter than our own galaxy of 100…
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