n. (context astronomy English) A compact region at the center of a galaxy that has a much higher than normal luminosity over at least some portion, and possibly all, of the electromagnetic spectrum.
An active galactic nucleus (AGN) is a compact region at the center 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, microwaves, infrared, optical, ultra-violet, X-ray and gamma ray wavebands. A galaxy hosting an AGN is called an active galaxy. The radiation from an AGN is believed to be a result of accretion of matter by a supermassive black hole at the center of its 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 puts constraints on models of the cosmos.