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posted by martyb on Monday May 25 2015, @07:11AM   Printer-friendly
from the so-far dept.

A remote galaxy shining with the light of more than 300 trillion suns has been discovered using data from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE). The galaxy is the most luminous galaxy found to date and belongs to a new class of objects recently discovered by WISE -- extremely luminous infrared galaxies, or ELIRGs.

"We are looking at a very intense phase of galaxy evolution," said Chao-Wei Tsai of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, lead author of a new report appearing in the May 22 issue of The Astrophysical Journal. "This dazzling light may be from the main growth spurt of the galaxy's black hole."

The brilliant galaxy, known as WISE J224607.57-052635.0, may have a behemoth black hole at its belly, gorging itself on gas. Supermassive black holes draw gas and matter into a disk around them, heating the disk to roaring temperatures of millions of degrees and blasting out high-energy, visible, ultraviolet, and X-ray light. The light is blocked by surrounding cocoons of dust. As the dust heats up, it radiates infrared light.

Immense black holes are common at the cores of galaxies, but finding one this big so "far back" in the cosmos is rare. Because light from the galaxy hosting the black hole has traveled 12.5 billion years to reach us, astronomers are seeing the object as it was in the distant past. The black hole was already billions of times the mass of our sun when our universe was only a tenth of its present age of 13.8 billion years.

The new study outlines three reasons why the black holes in the ELIRGs could have grown so massive. First, they may have been born big. In other words, the "seeds," or embryonic black holes, might be bigger than thought possible.

"How do you get an elephant?" asked Peter Eisenhardt, project scientist for WISE at JPL and a co-author on the paper. "One way is start with a baby elephant."


Related Stories

NASA Website Allows Public to Search WISE Data for Nearby Objects and Planet Nine 6 comments

NASA is collaborating with Zooniverse to allow the public to search WISE data for "nearby" rogue planets, brown dwarfs, and Planet Nine:

NASA is inviting the public to help search for possible undiscovered worlds in the outer reaches of our solar system and in neighboring interstellar space. A new website, called Backyard Worlds: Planet 9, lets everyone participate in the search by viewing brief movies made from images captured by NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission. The movies highlight objects that have gradually moved across the sky.

"There are just over four light-years between Neptune and Proxima Centauri, the nearest star, and much of this vast territory is unexplored," said lead researcher Marc Kuchner, an astrophysicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "Because there's so little sunlight, even large objects in that region barely shine in visible light. But by looking in the infrared, WISE may have imaged objects we otherwise would have missed."

Backyard Worlds: Planet 9.

Previously: No Evidence for 'Planet X', says NASA - "[No] object the size of Saturn or larger exists out to a distance of 10,000 astronomical units (AU), and no object larger than Jupiter exists out to 26,000 AU."
NASA's WISE Spacecraft Discovers Most Luminous Galaxy in Universe
NASA's NEOWISE Mission Finds 72 Additional Near-Earth Objects
Two New Kuiper Belt Objects Boost the Case for "Planet Nine"
The Mysterious 'Planet Nine' Might be Causing the Whole Solar System to Wobble

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  • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 25 2015, @07:12AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 25 2015, @07:12AM (#187539)

    It's full of stars!

  • (Score: 0, Offtopic) by aristarchus on Monday May 25 2015, @07:40AM

    by aristarchus (2645) Subscriber Badge on Monday May 25 2015, @07:40AM (#187543) Journal

    I am starting to notice that any article on actual pure science only receives a very small number of comments, where anything in fascist racist political issues garners over a hundred. Am I correct in thinking that most Soylentils are mere technicians, without an interest in basic research? This explains the Mic4o$0ft Fanbois in the woods, and the hagiographic Apple squad. And jmorris. How about some some discussion of the basics of reality, where no one, or at least no one we know of, has any financial interest? We could avoid the rather crude invitations from eth_fue, then, hopefully.

    What happens to "extremely luminous infrared galaxies"? Do they end up being middle aged formerly socialist galaxies that watch Fox News and complain about illegal immigrant galaxies with only middling black holes?

    • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 25 2015, @08:18AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 25 2015, @08:18AM (#187547)

      No? Not interested.

      • (Score: 1, Troll) by aristarchus on Monday May 25 2015, @08:25AM

        by aristarchus (2645) Subscriber Badge on Monday May 25 2015, @08:25AM (#187549) Journal

        Ah, now that we have heard from the oysters, any slightly more sentient beings care to comment? Rational beings preferred. Anyone? Bueller?

        • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 25 2015, @08:31AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 25 2015, @08:31AM (#187551)

          It's Bueller day off, idiot.

        • (Score: 2, Interesting) by KGIII on Monday May 25 2015, @05:57PM

          by KGIII (5261) on Monday May 25 2015, @05:57PM (#187668) Journal

          At risk of being pedantic (and a Grammar Nazi) when the summary pretty much begins with this "...has been discovered using data from NASA..." you may find people overlooking it? I do not know, really, but I am almost positive that this galaxy is not using NASA's data.

          Actually, it may be that it takes time for a community to develop and a while longer before it is seeing an influx of specialists in niche fields. Whilst I enjoy learning about a number of the sciences (physics and astronomy are two that I really enjoy that relate to this subject) I am not a scientist. While I may opine on the various subjects I am not a specialist. I doubt most of us here are scientists though I have seen a number of sites that scientists of all types seem to frequent. There are more comments on those sites than there are here, there are not very many comments compared to many other sites. I would not be surprised if many scientists do not post as they want credit for their work and forum accolades or posts are not credit in the professional or academic realm.

          I would further suggest that, as this site grows in popularity, the most growth we have here the more likely you will find those with niche information participate. In that case; participation by adding content, patience to await the tipping point, and perhaps even including links to this site (without SPAMing) on other sites to share the information that this site is here -- all may combine to result in more content from the specialists. Hard sciences are, well, hard which means that there are not so many experts in the various fields. My degree is in EE which is not applicable to some subjects though it does give a nice base for learning many things not directly related to my field but I am not an expert in those fields and I would not dare to be so full of ego as to make an authoritative statement on those subjects. Thus I rarely would post parent posts but I would certainly feel comfortable submitting replies.

          To wit, I don't have an accurate answer but have surmised the above. Patience, advocacy, and involvement may well net you the results you seem to be looking for. Those results you seek seem to be valuable and, as such, they are results I think we would all like to see. Personally, I have read the site and comments for a long time but did not join until yesterday (I won't post AC, my moniker is the same everywhere I post and what I post I own up to) but the additional specialist/niche content would be nice to read and learn from. Oddly, I have posted more here than I have posted in three months elsewhere (in just that short time). The lack of long-term embedded cabals and the quality of the submissions at this site are what attract me most. Extra, valuable, learning material in the form of submissions and comments are certainly something I'd would like to see no limit on and to see an increase of. That seems to be one of my primary reasons to add my comments.

          "So long and thanks for all the fish."
          • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 26 2015, @03:36AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 26 2015, @03:36AM (#187853)

            Yes, but you probably know as much science and math as those who comment in the other articles know about economics, sociology, psychology, etc., but that doesn't stop them from espousing spittle-flying, rage-inducing invectives against those who don't share their enlightened opinions. They can't do that here because they'll get bitch-slapped down by those of us who do know a thing or two about these science topics. In those other stories they can feel important, powerful, smart. They can climb their high horse and sneer down on the moral ingrates who aren't smart enough to be on their side.

            • (Score: 1) by KGIII on Tuesday May 26 2015, @12:51PM

              by KGIII (5261) on Tuesday May 26 2015, @12:51PM (#187989) Journal

              A very valid point and why I avoid making authoritative statements when the specialists should be.

              "So long and thanks for all the fish."
    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Monday May 25 2015, @11:32AM

      by takyon (881) Subscriber Badge <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Monday May 25 2015, @11:32AM (#187573) Journal

      I'll bite.

      If we keep refining our ability to see redshifted objects light, will we eventually be looking at a cloud of hydrogen from before galaxies formed?

      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
      • (Score: 3, Informative) by boristhespider on Monday May 25 2015, @12:53PM

        by boristhespider (4048) on Monday May 25 2015, @12:53PM (#187590)

        There's not much to see in a universe filled almost entirely with neutral hydrogen and neutral helium. After the formation of the CMB, that's basically all there was - the CMB itself is effectively a (heavily redshifted) photograph of the universe as it was when it cooled enough for neutral hydrogen to form. There weren't any light sources after that, so for a long period after the formation of the CMB and before the formation of the first stars there's literally nothing we could see. Observational cosmology will never be able to see earlier than the CMB (redshift of 1100 or so), nor in the interim between the formation of the CMB and the first stars (redshift of between about 5 and 10). That epoch is known as "reionisation", by the way, since the first stars, which were most likely violent behemoths, emitted more than enough high-energy radiation to strip the electrons back out of the hydrogen and helium atoms.

        Note that what I've said is not quite true, either. We will never directly see in the interim period. However, we could in principle see some secondary effects on the CMB, due to gravitational interactions with the structures that are forming - both lensing and also what's known as the integrated Sachs-Wolfe effect, an additional redshifting of the CMB caused by photons falling into gravitational wells that are shallower going in than they are coming out. But I'd not want to be the one to try and tease those from the data. After reionisation the CMB can interact directly with the reionised gases, and various smaller scale physical processes also emit in the microwave and muddy it up further - both these are likely to drown out most pre-reionisation effects unless there's something really interesting going on, while the ISW is vastly dominated by the far-deeper gravitational wells in the modern universe and, distressingly, the acceleration of the universe which has a massive impact.

    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 25 2015, @12:36PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 25 2015, @12:36PM (#187584)

      I'm interested.
      I read them.

      But there's not much to discuss.

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by FatPhil on Monday May 25 2015, @02:19PM

        by FatPhil (863) <> on Monday May 25 2015, @02:19PM (#187609) Homepage
        I read the summaries, and agree there's little to actually debate. This is a possible argument for story moderation, so the poster can be thanked with some attaboys.

        In a case like this, however, I don't read the linked-to article, as it's a NASA link, and some time last year NASA started to deliberately hide all their content away from bare-bones browsers (ones with no JS enabled, for example). Even view-source doesn't work:

              <article about="/press-release/nasas-wise-spacecraft-discovers-most-luminous-galaxy-in-universe" typeof="sioc:Item foaf:Document" role="article" class="node node--ubernode node--full node--ubernode--full">
                    <div class="node__content">

        No NASA, that's not an article, that's a blank div.

        Hilariously, while no content is displayed, some of it is hidden inside the headers *multiple times*.

        <meta name="dc.description" content="A remote galaxy shining with the light of more than 300 trillion suns has [...]
        <meta property="og:description" content="A remote galaxy shining with the light of more than 300 trillion suns has [...]
        <meta name="description" content="A remote galaxy shining with the light of more than 300 trillion suns has been [...]
        <meta property="twitter:description" content="A remote galaxy shining with the light of more than 300 trillion [...]

        Perhaps a US citizen would like to complain about accessibility, all we foreigners can do is ineffectually whine.
        Life is a precious commodity. A wise investor would get rid of it when it has the highest value.
        • (Score: 1) by KGIII on Monday May 25 2015, @06:14PM

          by KGIII (5261) on Monday May 25 2015, @06:14PM (#187674) Journal

          Regardless of its charter NASA is not, has not ever been, open. It is supposed to be but it is not. Before its official start date there was a report submitted to congress that included the idea of hiding NASA's findings WRT finding alien life or other information that "may trouble" the populace. I do not remember the name of the document but I know where I learned about it. My source is a kook but he does provide evidence for this. It was in one of Richard Hoagland's talks about moon structures BUT he shows the document and names it as well as how to acquire the document today. The document was from a committee of congresscritters and is public information. The talk he gave is some three hours long or so and I lack the time to search for it. No, more honest, I lack the initiative to search for it, I could make the time but am not going to. The presentation is on YouTube if you are interested. Another example is the many military projects that NASA has done that are not public information. Yes they launched a satellite and no they are not able/willing to tell you what the function is. They are not, have never been, open, unfortunately.

          "So long and thanks for all the fish."
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 26 2015, @03:47AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 26 2015, @03:47AM (#187858)

            It was in one of Richard Hoagland's talks about moon structures. . .

            Wait, I thought we were talking about science stuff. I'm surprised you skimmed over the stuff about how NASA covered up all the stuff it found about Cydonia. Oh, and don't forget the blue skies of Mars!!!! All MASSIVE coverups! I've seen the critical thinking skills of Hoagland and company, some of it quite close up, and I wouldn't believe a damn word of anything he says because it is invariably taken out of context, blown out of proportion, or extrapolated well beyond the bounds of credibility.

            • (Score: 1) by KGIII on Tuesday May 26 2015, @12:49PM

              by KGIII (5261) on Tuesday May 26 2015, @12:49PM (#187985) Journal

              You should not that I called him a kook but a relative thought it imperative that I watch so I said I would and am an honorable person. The only thing I gathered from it was the above and that he had some books of images that he horrifically manipulated.

              "So long and thanks for all the fish."
    • (Score: 1) by inertnet on Monday May 25 2015, @01:15PM

      by inertnet (4071) on Monday May 25 2015, @01:15PM (#187599)

      I mostly refrain from replying because some juvenile will destroy any discussion trying to gain LOL points.

      On the subject, I have been playing with an idea for a scifi story for at least 30 years, but never got around to writing it down. Imagine our universe started with a big bang and will end with a big crunch. The next universe consists of negative matter, the next will be 'our' matter again. Imagine that at least one civilization from each era managed to escape their big crunch, using extremely advanced science. They would want to shorten each others universe, the effects of which we can see as quasars and for instance "Most Luminous Galaxy in the Universe" and 'dark matter and energy'. They can never fight each other up close so they need help. Scouts from the previous 'positive' universe would try and find early civilizations (us) and give them a choice between eternity (escape to the next universe) if they join the fight or hell (big crunch) if they don't. I think this story could be written as the 'ultimate' scifi story, because all of our science and history (e.g. bible) can be fitted in perfectly. I can't write it myself so if there's a writer around who is able and interested, we could discuss that.

      But mostly I don't bother responding on SN or /.

      • (Score: 2) by rts008 on Monday May 25 2015, @02:35PM

        by rts008 (3001) on Monday May 25 2015, @02:35PM (#187612)

        This may sound like nit-picking, but is intended to be constructive criticism. :-)

        Unless I have misunderstood something, you have 'alternating universes of positive and negative matter'. Okay, fine, that sounds interesting.

        Then imagining that one bunch escaped their big lose me there, because the first question that popped into my head was: Escaped to WHERE?
        Second question: 'give them a choice between eternity(escape to the next universe)' Next universe? the opposite-energy one?(WTF?) Or the next cycle of 'same-energy universe'?(where do they go for the interim?)

        It does sound like an interesting idea for a story, and I think it has potential, but it also sounds difficult to 'pull off'. Good Luck!(I am being sincere, not sarcastic)

        As for the 'lack of comments' on these types of articles, there isn't too much to discuss for the layman. (it does not help that the comment section here is starting to resemble the 'youtube' comment section *sigh*)

        We are at one of those 'lull periods' in science where Big Discoveries temporarily are rare. If past history holds true, soon a discovery will be made that opens a floodgate of new and amazing areas to explore.

        In some of the past 'lull periods', we heard proclamations that 'we now know everything worth is done', only to have that turned on it's head, and then the mad dash back to the 'drawing board'. At least I hope we have outgrown this attitude, and I await the next Big Discovery that has scientists scrambling. :-)

        I personally see Neuroscience as a potential Big Discovery field. We shall see...

        • (Score: 1) by inertnet on Monday May 25 2015, @07:59PM

          by inertnet (4071) on Monday May 25 2015, @07:59PM (#187711)

          Escaped inside a galaxy sized galaxy :-)
          In theory impossible, but maybe not for a civilization that's billions of years ahead of us.
          This solution requires a 300 billion (?) year wait, but that's counting in universe time.

        • (Score: 2) by el_oscuro on Tuesday May 26 2015, @01:50AM

          by el_oscuro (1711) on Tuesday May 26 2015, @01:50AM (#187815)

          Your comment reminded me of "The 3 body problem", a book about what life might be like on a planet in the 3 star Alpha-Centuri system.

          SoylentNews is Bacon! []
      • (Score: 2) by boristhespider on Monday May 25 2015, @03:16PM

        by boristhespider (4048) on Monday May 25 2015, @03:16PM (#187622)

        Couch it in a braneworld theory - have a read up on ekpyrosis for the best-known example. In something like a Randall-Sundrum 1 model you have two branes parallel to each other, each of which has three spatial dimensions and is hanging in a universe with four space and one time dimension. Each is its own universe, and they can interact gravitationally (including providing one another with dark matter and dark energy if you tune it right). The branes are able to move; when they're moving apart from one-another the universes they hold are expanding, when they move closer together the universes are contracting, and when they clap together like cymbals you get a big crunch followed by a big bang. If you added an extra brane in there, then unless all three collide at exactly the same instant, there's always a universe that provides a safe haven for those who can travel along the fourth spatial dimension. The advantages are that you're working in the type of model that have genuinely been considered in cosmology, that are at least inspired by M theory, and that don't require a sudden "anti-energy" universe afterwards. (The disadvantages are of course that you can't travel along the fourth spatial dimension - by definition we're made of particles that live absolutely on the brane. There's no flexibility in this. But that's the advantage of science fiction; you can change one or two inconvenient bits of physics and then run with it.)

        • (Score: 1) by inertnet on Monday May 25 2015, @08:02PM

          by inertnet (4071) on Monday May 25 2015, @08:02PM (#187713)

          I hadn't considered two or more universes at the same time (that theory came long after I first had this story idea), but that's also an interesting concept.

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Shub on Monday May 25 2015, @01:31PM

      by Shub (474) on Monday May 25 2015, @01:31PM (#187603)

      As a commenter below noted(he/she reads the stories). It becomes increasingly hard to actually comment on science stories, as science necessarily becomes more focused and esoteric as time goes by and therefore harder to comment on for laypeople such as myself and others. All we can really say is that a topic is interesting, and what was brought forth in the article is good for the progress of scientific endeavour, but can't really add anything to the discussion without (in my own case anyway) seeming like a bit of a pleb with regards to the subject matter.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 26 2015, @03:49AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 26 2015, @03:49AM (#187859)

        But most people are plebs on issues like economics, race relations, intelligence gathering, Constitutional law, etc., but that doesn't stop them from sounding off like they are some kind of expert on any of those issues.