(NASA)The Wide field Infrared Survey Explorer mission has discovered millions of black holes in hot dust obscured galaxies.
Images from the telescope have revealed millions of dusty black hole candidates across the universe and about 1,000 even dustier objects thought to be among the brightest galaxies ever found.
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, even may shut down star formation in galaxies.
In one study, astronomers used WISE to identify about 2.5 million actively feeding supermassive black holes across the full sky, stretching back to distances more than 10 billion light-years away. About two-thirds of these black holes never had been detected before because dust blocks their visible light. WISE easily sees these monsters because their powerful, accreting black holes warm the dust, causing it to glow in infrared light.
In two other WISE papers, researchers report finding what are among the brightest galaxies known, one of the main goals of the mission. So far, they have identified about 1,000 candidates.
These extreme objects can pour out more than 100 trillion times as much light as our sun. They are so dusty, however, that they appear only in the longest wavelengths of infrared light captured by WISE. NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope followed up on the discoveries in more detail and helped show that, in addition to hosting supermassive black holes feverishly snacking on gas and dust, these DOGs are busy churning out new stars.
For those of a more scientific bent, here are some of the technical reports and papers that have come from this release: