A team of astrophysicists from the NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., announced this week that they had found the Universe’s brightest galaxy to date. Scientists claim that the newly found space object is brighter than 300 trillion suns.
The authors of the finding disclosed that the galaxy’s unusual brightness is due to a hyper active supermassive black hole located at its core. Nearly all galaxies host a similar black hole at their center, but not all supermassive black holes are as active as the newly found one.
Supermassive black holes engulf heaps of cosmic material and they release in return tremendous amounts of light and thermal radiation. The emitted light can be detected in both X-ray and ultraviolet wavelengths.
But researchers were puzzled first and foremost by the black hole, rather than the galaxy around it. Scientists took a quick glance at the newly discovered galaxy, scientifically dubbed WISE J224607.57-052635.0, as it appeared 12.5 billion years ago.
But if we take into account that the current scientific consensus on the Universe’s age is 13.82 billion years, the black hole is too massive for its young age, scientists argued.
NASA astrophysicists speculate that the black hole may have been “born big.”
“How do you get an elephant? One way is start with a baby elephant,”
said Peter Eisenhardt, one of the authors of the find.
Nevertheless, his colleagues have different theories. Chao-Wei Tsai, the lead researcher of the team, said that the black hole may have become so big by “binge eating” the food around it. Prof. Tsai explained that a black hole can consume matter more rapidly than usual especially if it doesn’t spin very fast.
But a supermassive black hole’s feeding rate depends on the amount of emitted light resulted from the super-hot matter that gets engulfed by the hungry black hole. Moreover, if the black hole spins at a slower rate, it will not spew too much future food back into space, scientists explained.
Andrew Blain, co-author of the finding and researcher at the University of Leicester in the U.K., explained that such black holes gorge themselves on their food for prolonged periods of time just like they were racing in a “hot-dog-eating contest” that would last hundreds of millions of years.
The brightest galaxy known to man was detected with help from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) space telescope. WISE spotted the galaxy and 19 other “extremely luminous infrared galaxies” by the infrared radiation that they emitted.
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