Quasar S5 0014+81

Object Description

Quasar S5 0014+81
Quasar S5 0014+81: Find the blazar in Cepheus; Embergeralm, elev. 1800, Kärnten AT; © 17 September 2004 Pierre Schmid, Eduard von Bergen

S5 0014+81 is one of the brightest known blazars, a high-energy subclass of quasars, active galactic nuclei whose collimated, relativistic particle jet randomly points toward Earth. The host galaxy is a large starburst elliptical of magnitude 24.

This quasar has a total luminosity of 1041 Watt, which corresponds to an absolute magnitude of -31.5, or 3×1014 times the luminosity of the sun. If it were 280 light-years from Earth, we would receive the same amount of energy per square meter as from the Sun — even though it would be a factor of 18 million times further away.

Due to its immense distance of 12.1 billion light years, the quasar can only be observed using spectroscopy. The responsible supermassive black hole is estimated to gobble up 4'000 solar masses of matter annually. It is a very strong source of radiation ranging from gamma, X-ray and radio waves.

The designation S5 0014+81 derives from the «Fifth Survey of Strong Radio Sources». The sequence of digits «0014+81» corresponds to the equatorial coordinates in the B1950.0 epoch: right ascension 00h 14m, declination +81°. Another common designation is 6C 001403+811827 from the «Sixth Cambridge Survey of Radio Sources», with the correspondingly more accurate B1950.0 equatorial coordinates. [145, 167]

Further infos at CDS: S5 0014+813

Data for S5 from NASA/IPAC Extragalactic Database [194]
DesignationsS5 0014+813, 6C 001403+811827
RA / Dec (J2000.0)00h 17m08.5s / +81° 35' 08"
Object typeQSO
Radial velocity>30'000 km/s
Redshift z3.366000
Brightness16.5 mag

Finder Chart

In the search for very distant objects - for example on the «edge of the universe» or better in the first hours of the formation of our universe - you will find the constellation Cepheus a quasar. In larger amateur telescopes the quasar S5 0014+81 should be visible with a magnitude of only 16.5. [192]

Chart Quasar S5 0014+81
Quasar S5 0014+81 in constellation Cepheus. Chart created using SkySafari 6 Pro and STScI Digitized Sky Survey. [149, 160]

Visual Observation

350 mm aperture: With a Dobsonian of 14 inch or 350 mm lens diameter you are at the instrument limit, a larger aperture is definitely helpful. It then took about 1.5 hours until I believed my multiple short quasar sightings. With high magnifications I tried one to get as good and deep black sky background as possible. The object then also appeared occasionally for fractions of a second. In any case, a confirmation of the quasar in a larger instrument was still pending.

14" PWO-Dobson, F:4.6 / TV-Nagler-Zoom 6mm-5mm, 266x-320x, 0.19°-0.16
Eduard von Bergen

400 mm aperture: This confirmation was achieved with a 16 inch or 400 mm Ninja Dobsonian. Even with such an instrument, the quasar was a real challenge. It showed up more often than in the 14-incher, each time flashing briefly. Averted vision and good breathing helped. In the 16 inch the perception of the quasar was clearer and more definite. We assured each other of the sighting of the quasar. Almost euphorically we switched to observing simpler and closer objects.

16" Ninja-Dobson, F:4.5 / TV-Radian 6mm, 300x, 0.2°
Eduard von Bergen

More Objects Nearby (±20°)


145SIMBAD astronomical database; simbad.u-strasbg.fr/simbad
149SkySafari 6 Pro, Simulation Curriculum; skysafariastronomy.com
160The STScI Digitized Sky Survey; archive.stsci.edu/cgi-bin/dss_form
167«The most luminous quasar: S5 0014 +81» Kuhr, H.; Liebert, J. W.; Strittmatter, P. A.; Schmidt, G. D.; Mackay, C.; Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 275, p. L33-L37 (1983); 1983ApJ...275L..33K; DOI:10.1086/184166; Bibcode:1983ApJ...275L..33K
192Deep-Sky Guide; fernrohr.ch/1d_deep-sky-guide.html (2020-12-25)
194NASA/IPAC Extragalactic Database (NED); ned.ipac.caltech.edu (2020-12-27)