This image zooms in on one small region of the WISE sky, covering an area about three times larger than the moon. The WISE quasar candidates are highlighted with yellow circles. (Photo : NASA)
NASA's Wide Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) has unveiled over 2.5 million supermassive black holes and "about 1,000 even dustier objects thought to be among the brightest galaxies ever found." These newly discovered galaxies are nicknamed hot DOGs.
In a press release, WISE scientist Hashima Hasen stated, "Wise has exposed a menagerie of hidden objects....We've found an asteroid dancing ahead of Earth in its orbit, the coldest star-like orbs known and now, supermassive black holes and galaxies hiding behind cloaks of dust."
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"These dusty, cataclysmically forming galaxies are so rare WISE had to scan the entire sky to find them. We are also seeing evidence that these record setters may have formed their black holes before the bulk of their stars. The 'eggs' may have come before the 'chickens'", says astronomer Peter Eisenhardt of NASA.
So what does any of this mean? Hasen explains: "The latest findings are helping astronomers better understand how galaxies and the behemoth black holes at their centers grow and evolve together. For example, the giant black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy, called Sagittarius A*, has 4 million times the mass of our sun and has gone through periodic feeding frenzies where material falls towards the black hole, heats up and irradiates its surroundings. Bigger central black holes, up to a billion times the mass of our sun, may even shut down star formation in galaxies."
This is an exciting time for astronomy buffs. With the Curiosity Mars rover relaying new data from the red planet on a daily basis, and new types of galaxies being discovered, it's difficult to not be excited about what mysteries will be solved and what new questions will arise in the coming years.
Jingwen Wu of NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab, expresses that "we may be seeing a new, rare phase in the evolution of galaxies."