brightgalaxy
Click to see larger image / This artist’s concept depicts the most luminous galaxy known in the universe. The object, which was discovered by NASA’s WISE space telescope, is called WISE J224607.57-052635.0 Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
A newfound galaxy 12.5 billion light-years from Earth is the most luminous one known in the universe, blazing more brightly than 300 trillion suns, a new study reports.

The engine behind the galaxy’s brilliance may be a supermassive black hole, researchers said. Such behemoths lurk at the heart of most, if not all, galaxies; material spiraling down into the black holes’ maws heats up tremendously, emitting huge amounts of light in visible, ultraviolet and X-ray wavelengths.

If this is indeed what’s going on with the newly discovered galaxy, which is known as WISE J224607.57-052635.0, it raises an interesting question: How did the supermassive black hole get so big, so fast? After all, astronomers are seeing the object as it existed 12.5 billion years ago, when the universe was just 1.3 billion years old.

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