Published in The Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, 1999, Volume 111, Issue 760, pp. 661-678.

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Gregory A. Shields Department of Astronomy, University of Texas, Austin, TX 78712

Abstract. Astronomers knew early in the twentieth century that some galaxies have emission-line nuclei. However, even the systematic study by Seyfert (1943) was not enough to launch active galactic nuclei (AGN) as a major topic of astronomy. The advances in radio astronomy in the 1950s revealed a new universe of energetic phenomena, and inevitably led to the discovery of quasars. These discoveries demanded the attention of observers and theorists, and AGN have been a subject of intense effort ever since. Only a year after the recognition of the redshifts of 3C 273 and 3C 48 in 1963, the idea of energy production by accretion onto a black hole was advanced. However, acceptance of this idea came slowly, encouraged by the discovery of black hole X-ray sources in our Galaxy and, more recently, supermassive black holes in the center of the Milky Way and other galaxies. Many questions remain as to the formation and fueling of the hole, the geometry of the central regions, the detailed emission mechanisms, the production of jets, and other aspects. The study of AGN will remain a vigorous part of astronomy for the foreseeable future.

Galaxies:Active - Galaxies:Quasars:General - Galaxies:Seyfert

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