Dusty 'Sunrise' at Core of the Brightest Known Galaxy

Wise_wise2015-0521_1024

wise_WISE2015-0521 May 21st, 2015

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (IPAC)

This artist's concept depicts the current record holder for the most luminous galaxy in the universe. The galaxy, named WISE J224607.57-052635.0, is erupting with light equal to more than 300 trillion suns. It was discovered by NASA's Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE. The galaxy is smaller than the Milky Way, yet puts out 10,000 times more energy.

Scientists think that a supermassive black hole at the center of this dusty galaxy is busily consuming gaseous material in a colossal growth spurt. As the gas is dragged toward the black hole, it heats up and blasts out visible, ultraviolet and X-ray light. The dust swaddling the galaxy absorbs this light and heats up, radiating longer-wavelength, infrared light. The dust also blocks our view of shorter, visible-light wavelengths, while letting longer-wavelengths through. This is similar to what happens when sunlight streams through our dusty atmosphere, producing a brilliant red sunrise.

In fact, more than 99 percent of the light escaping from this dusty galaxy is infrared. As a result, it is much harder to see with optical telescopes.

Because light from the galaxy hosting the black hole has traveled 12.5 billion years to reach us (redshift of 4.6), astronomers are seeing the object as it was in the distant past. During this epoch, galaxies would have been more than five times closer together than they are now, as illustrated in the background of the artist's concept. This is due to the expansion of space -- space itself and the galaxies in it are stretching apart from each other at ever-increasing speeds.

Provider: Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer

Image Source: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=4593

Curator: Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, Berkeley, CA, USA

Image Use Policy: Public Domain

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Image Details

Image Type
Artwork
Object Name
WISE J224607.57-052635.0
Subject - Distant Universe
Galaxy > Activity > Ultraluminous
Galaxy > Activity > AGN

Distance

Universescale3
12,500,000,000 light years
Wise_wise2015-0521_1280
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ID
WISE2015-0521
Subject Category
D.5.3.4   D.5.3.2  
Subject Name
WISE J224607.57-052635.0
Credits
NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (IPAC)
Release Date
2015-05-21
Lightyears
12,500,000,000
Redshift
4.593
Reference Url
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=4593
Type
Artwork
Image Quality
Good
Distance Notes
Facility
Instrument
Color Assignment
Band
Bandpass
Central Wavelength
Start Time
Integration Time
Dataset ID
Notes
Coordinate Frame
Equinox
Reference Value
Reference Dimension
Reference Pixel
Scale
Rotation
Coordinate System Projection:
Quality
FITS Header
Notes
Creator (Curator)
Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer
URL
http://wise.astro.ucla.edu
Name
Email
outreach@ssl.berkeley.edu
Telephone
Address
7 Gauss Way
City
Berkeley
State/Province
CA
Postal Code
94720
Country
USA
Rights
Public Domain
Publisher
Publisher ID
wise
Resource ID
Resource URL
/image/wise/WISE2015-0521
Related Resources
Metadata Date
2015-06-18T01:15:29Z
Metadata Version
1.2
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Detailed color mapping information coming soon...

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Universescalefull
12,500,000,000 light years