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A Galaxy Torn Apart

Artist rendering: NRAO/AUI/NSF; Dana Berry / SkyWorks; ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)
Artist rendering: NRAO/AUI/NSF; Dana Berry / SkyWorks; ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)
In a galaxy called W2246-0526, 12.4 billion light-years away, a supermassive black hole at the center is gobbling it up from the inside out. The energy is actually tearing the galaxy apart, and “expelling tremendously turbulent gas—a phenomenon never seen before in an object of this kind.” All this chaos has made it the most luminous galaxy on record. NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, has been observing it. Scientists are hoping that the black hole will eventually consume, or blow out all the gas and dust in the galaxy, leaving us with a clear view of its accretion disk.

Heather Goss is the Departments Editor at Air & Space.

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Tags:

galaxy, WISE