It’s a busy time of growth in the life of our universe’s galaxies.
Bridge First Author’s Institution: Nucleo de Astronomia de la Facultad de Ingenieria, Universidad Diego Portales, Santiago, Chile It’s year 10 post-Big Bang, and the galaxies are awakening.
As the gas is consumed by the black hole, the gravitational potential energy lost by the gas is converted in part into heat, causing the gas to heat up to millions of degrees. The staggering amounts of dust surrounding a Hot DOG absorbs the light, however, but reemits it in the infrared, giving rise to Extremely Luminous Infra Red Galaxies (ELIRGs).
Given the extravagant luminosity of W2246-0526, it must be illuminated by a powerful AGN, powered by a ravenous and rapidly growing black hole.
But rapid growth is often accompanied with growing pains, a rule from which galaxies not exempt—the black hole draws the material it accretes from the same reservoir from which its host galaxy forms stars.
Thus both the galaxy’s AGN and star formation may shut off quickly thereafter. The authors of today’s paper sought to answer this question by mapping the galaxy’s star-forming gas, the interstellar medium (ISM).
Title: The Strikingly Uniform, Highly Turbulent Interstellar Medium of the Most Luminous Galaxy in the Universe Authors: T. Its cryptic name hides a clue to why it’s so bright—its first letter is an abbreviation of the name of the telescope that discovered it, the space-borne Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), which was designed to image the entire sky in the infrared and find the most luminous infrared galaxies in the universe.
The brightest galaxy in the universe that we know of to date, W2246-0526, lives at a redshift of z ~ 4.6 (about a billion years after the Big Bang) and radiates at an astounding rate of 3.5 x 10, about 10,000 times brighter than a typical star-forming galaxy you’d see today, such as the Milky Way. This era of growth is one in which some of the brightest galaxies we know of have been found. It’ll never quite be the same again in the history of the universe, nor in the lives of its then-adolescent galactic citizens. In a billion years or so, they too will be undergoing peak growth. Some are already a staggering billion solar masses. Also growing heartily are supermassive black holes, buried deep in the heart of each massive galaxy.