Washington: US space agency NASA said on Thursday that its Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) telescope has discovered a remote galaxy that shines with the light of more than 300 trillion suns, making it the most luminous galaxy ever found.
The galaxy, known as WISE J224607.57-052635.0, belongs to a recently discovered new class of objects called extremely luminous infrared galaxies. NASA said its dazzling light may be due to a behemoth black hole at its belly, according to Xinhua.
"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 space agency said in a statement.
The light, however, is absorbed by surrounding cocoons of dust, which prevents us from seeing the galaxy with optical telescopes.
When the dust heats up, it radiates infrared light, which was only now detected by the WISE telescope.
Because light from the galaxy hosting the black hole has travelled 12.5 billion years to reach us, astronomers are seeing the object as it was in the distant past, NASA said.
At that time, our universe was only a tenth of its present age of 13.8 billion years but the black hole was already billions of times the mass of our sun, it said.
The new study, published in the Astrophysical Journal, also reported 19 other extremely luminous infrared galaxies.
Just like the most luminous galaxy found to date, these galaxies were not found earlier because of their distance, and because dust converts their powerful visible light into an incredible outpouring of infrared light.