Black holes, bright galaxies emerge from dust
Gas and dust form a torus shape around a black hole in this illustration.
August 30th, 2012
11:12 AM ET

Black holes, bright galaxies emerge from dust

Hidden behind dust in deep space are brilliant galaxies with black holes that scientists are just beginning to learn about.

NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, known as WISE, has found millions of black holes and about 1,000 dust-obscured galaxies with very high temperatures, which NASA is cutely calling "hot DOGs" for short. They are believed to be the brightest known galaxies.

Hot DOGs, which have supermassive black holes at their centers, can emit more than 100 trillion times as much light as the sun, according to researchers. But they do not appear as bright in images because they are covered in dust.

“It changes our concept of how brilliant and powerful galaxies can be,” said Peter Eisenhardt, project scientist for WISE at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “We are finding quite a few objects here that are brighter than what we knew before, and we’ve only combed through about 10% of these hot DOGs.”

Black holes are extremely dense objects from which no light can escape, but high-energy radiation is produced when gas and dust get sucked in. Material around the black hole forms what's called an accretion disc, constantly spiraling toward the black hole. X-ray radiation is emitted as matter gets compressed by the black hole. There is a massive black hole in the center of our galaxy, too.

WISE is equipped with a telescope that captured millions of images of celestial objects, including black holes, galaxies, stars and asteroids. The information obtained from WISE may help scientists explore the relationship between black holes and their surrounding galaxies.

The state-of-the-art technology of WISE allowed scientists to discover that the 2.5 million black holes were nearly 10 billion light-years away. Older technology was unsuccessful at detecting them because of dust, which concealed the black holes’ existence. WISE, however, captured them immediately.

“These varied black holes that are hidden in gas and dust are thought to dominate and we have not had a good measurement of how many there are until now,” said Daniel Stern of JPL, lead author of the WISE black hole study.  “WISE has allowed us to do this across the whole sky.”

Stern added that the next steps will be to find out how black holes behave and examine the high-energy X-ray radiation associated with them.  NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, for which Stern is the project scientist, launched in June to explore black holes with its "X-ray eyes."

WISE also found that the extreme galaxies have temperatures more than double those of other galaxies that burn with infrared light. One possible explanation is that, in a hot DOG, a powerful burst of activity from the black hole heats the dust in the galaxy.

The WISE mission orbited the Earth approximately 15 times daily for 14 months at an altitude of 525 kilometers (326 miles). Snapshots of the sky were captured every 11 seconds.

Most of WISE's findings have been confirmed by the W.M Keck Observatory in Mauna Kea, Hawaii, the Gemini Observatory of Chile, Palomar’s 200-inch Hale telescope in California and the Multiple Mirror Telescope Observatory near Tucson, Arizona.

Eisenhardt says it is still unclear which the hot DOGS produce first - the black hole or the rest of the galaxy’s stars. But he points out some evidence showing that black holes may come first or, as he put it, “the ‘eggs’ may have come before the ‘chickens.’” More research is needed to validate the sequence of creation within hot DOGS.

It's clear that black holes aren't rare, and have been around for a long time. Research published last year suggested that at least 30 million black holes had formed before the universe was 1 billion years old.

WISE's mission will open a new door into the world of galaxy evolution in coming years, experts say. With more extensive research, NASA’s findings could change the landscape of astronomical science  - or as Eisenhardt put it,  “push the boundaries of what we think is physically possible.”

The observations were published in the Astrophysical Journal in three papers. You can read them here, here, and here.

CNN's Elizabeth Landau contributed to this report. 

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Filed under: In Space • News
soundoff (584 Responses)
  1. BT電影下載, 電影下載, BT電影

    Definitely believe that that you said. Your favourite reason seemed to be on the web the easiest factor to remember of. I say to you, I certainly get irked at the same time as folks think about worries that they plainly do not know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the highest as well as outlined out the entire thing with no need side effect , people can take a signal. Will likely be again to get more. Thank you

    October 16, 2012 at 11:40 am |
  2. Ed M

    What happens when a black hole is "full" enough to become "unstable"?

    A new Big Bang?

    September 8, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  3. Diego

    It's never been about science or God. All the issues, all the questions, all the essence everything is about humans. How we "want" to see things, how we "hope" things could be, etc, etc. People "must" believe in something. People in general cannot fathom dying and being no where or not excisting any more. Humans are self centered....let us not forget about the inquisition and the killing of our fellow cristians for witch craft and for "not" believing the earth is the center of the universe. Also, people need to believe that their beliefs are true, other wise people crumble and wither away....Do you want to see something that will send shivers down your spine? Listen to one of those brother loving christians tell you about the coming apocalypse and you will see a smile and a sparkle in their eyes...even though it means the death and the suffering of billions, but hey, that means they were "right" in believing in God...and of course, they know "they" will be among the ones saved. The problem is not science or religion. It has always been and it will always be....a human problem.

    September 7, 2012 at 12:44 am |
  4. Randy

    A good place to start for Christians would be at the following link so you can speak with authority when concerning creation. A lot of you mean well but are unprepared for an argument with people educated in worldly things.

    September 3, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
  5. yankeeshogun

    Glad to hear that those deadbeat galaxies are finally dusting themselves off.

    September 2, 2012 at 11:58 am |
  6. T-Roy

    The great thing about science is that it exist whether you believe in it or not.

    August 31, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
  7. lee s

    Are black holes "space generators?" There seems to be some connectrion with the expansion of space and black holes. There exists huge rifts of space growing ever larger between galactic bodies. Galaxies house the largest collections of observable matter/energy in the universe. They also house the largest black holes. The space between them is growing and growing. Gravity seems to be able to overcome this somewhat, as pur galaxy will collide with the Andromeda galaxy, in like a billion years. Maybe not the singularity itslef is generating space but there is some process associated with what happens to the matter/energy that gets eaten by a black hole and the expansion of space.

    August 31, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • Judas Priest

      Interesting thought. This is just the sort of thought that could be constructed as a hypothesis, and then tested experimentally. SCIENCE!

      August 31, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
      • John1

        Yeah, otherwise, you've got another thing coming.

        September 2, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
    • Bobby

      I had the same thought!

      September 2, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
  8. King

    See....this is why we should've been building the next generation of spacecrafts IN space and actually put the IST to some real use instead of a lounge retreat for different astronauts. Then we could actually move forward with propulsion systems and test them safely away from our own planet's atmosphere and get to cruising around our own system!

    August 31, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • Judas Priest

      Please. You're going to bring on another round of "The Bitter Space Ex-Enthusiast Drinking Game".

      August 31, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
      • King

        let me guess....take a shot every time a new rover is talked about for mars

        August 31, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
      • Judas Priest

        Worse. Take a shot every time you compare where we SHOULD be in space, to where we are.

        August 31, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
    • TB

      @ King: Wow!! Why arent you working for NASA, since you obviously know more about what's going on than anyone else there. Your talents are wasted on ... whatever it is that you do.

      August 31, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
      • Judas Priest

        One of the original intents for the permanent US. space station (Space Station 1, which became Freedom, which eventually became the ISS) was to be a staging area for assembly of spacecraft components that would have ben carried up on the shuttle. It's one of the reasons why the big truss that the solar panels attach to is so big. The station would have been the departure and return point for manned deep space missions, which would save a lot of time, energy, money, and engineering headaches.
        But alas, it was not to be.

        August 31, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
      • King

        Obviously you have no damn idea what your even griping about,since your comment really doesn't have any direct relation to my post. But I guess you do work for NASA since you think they are doing such a great job on not trying to get back into the game. Maybe I am being a bt harsh, but we wasted a lot of time on going no where fast. What they intended for the ISS never came to be....but we do have some STUNNING images of far away galaxies. I guess NASA stopped exploring and became interstellar photographers instead. Next we can hold an international R/C rally on Mars with all the equipment we have up there. I wonder who I would bet on.....

        August 31, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
      • Sn0wB0arder

        Judas – i am curious why you consider that it would save a lot of time, energy, money, and engineering headaches.

        ultimately, it would use considerably more fuel to ferry a large number of parts, packed for transport to the space station than it would to launch the assembled spacecraft.

        assembly in space is amazingly more complicated than assembly in a hangar on earth with the lack of atmosphere and zero gravity.

        the only advantage would be for spacecraft that are too large to safely launch from earth.

        August 31, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • Lee S

      yea sucks the soviet union fell. That really took the wind(money) out of the sails of NASA.

      August 31, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
      • Judas Priest

        Fear not. One of these days our fearless leaders will resurrect the glory days, back when enemies were enemies and sudden death was held over the heads of the entire world. We came very close with George Jr. and Putin. Even Obama seems inclined.

        August 31, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
  9. tez07

    Oops, looks like Spock spilled his "Red Matter" again. He really needs to be more careful with that stuff.

    August 31, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
  10. izzy

    Sid Barrett's Astronomie Domonie is an excellent foray into the deep recesses of the cosmos.

    August 31, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
  11. izzy

    The Exgenesis of Phillip K Dick has some amazing insights into how hypercreative minds grapple with mysteries of the universe.

    August 31, 2012 at 11:59 am |
  12. jazger

    just howe insecure is this "god" person anyway?

    if he/she/it exists... and would really damn someone to heck..

    for just simply not believeing in or worshing him/her/it..

    then honestly, he/she/it is unworthy of said worship to begin with.

    August 31, 2012 at 11:39 am |
  13. tez07

    and here I was only concerned that hot dogs might contain rat droppings....who knew?

    August 31, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • Judas Priest

      Ahahaha! That's just TOO funny! What an AMAZING wit! And the humour of that joke just doesn't diminish, no matter HOW many times it's already been posted in this very thread!!!

      August 31, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • tez07

      settle down friend, I made a joke which offended nobody......I suggest you focus your rant and vengence on some of the hate filled comments I have seen below.

      August 31, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
      • Judas Priest

        You are right. Off I go, then.

        August 31, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
  14. King

    Wouldn't it be completely AWESOME if Voyager came back......with alien bumperstickers and graffiti on it with recordings of the places it could have seen before it's power died?

    August 31, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • Jarno

      At the speed it's going, even if it were to somehow be made to return, I think the Earth will long have been uninhabitable, our sun turned into a red giant, before that would happen. That is, if it somehow managed to stumble upon other intelligent life somewhere, and have that intelligent life discover it, which is more unlikely than finding a needle in a haystack the size of a solar system.

      Would still be cool though. 🙂

      September 2, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • David

      Come back? It hasn't even left the solar system yet. They're stuck in a plasma field though V1 is starting to get out.

      September 5, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
  15. Franco

    I do not believe there is life on other planets. The planets and stars and all that is in the heavens were all created by God to show his power and glory.

    August 31, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • BigBrain

      Boy, will you be disappointed if they find evidence that life once existed on Mars; and that is in our own solar system. Now figure there are roughly 100 billion stars in our galaxy, and there are roughly 200 billion galaxies in the observable universe. And you honestly feel that we are the only life in the universe.

      How small minded religious people are...

      August 31, 2012 at 11:44 am |
      • TiredOfPaying

        I've never been able to reconcile the religious belief that we are alone in the universe with the lack of support for Science from the same grouips. If the Universe is truly empty and God only created life on this one planet then it stands to reason that the entire Universe was placed there just for us. Therefore religious people should support Science so that we can develop the technology to actually GO to the rest of the Universe, since it is a gift from God for us. But that is not the case.

        It like saying that God did not create any people who live in the oceans, therefore we should never develop any ships because God did not want us to travel the oceans.

        August 31, 2012 at 11:54 am |
      • Franco

        Not small minded at all. The Viking landers did not find any evidence of life on Mars, at least on the surface, I suspect that curiosity will also reveal the same. I do not deny scientific discoveries and look forward to more of them, since they continue to increase my faith in God. How anyone that has more knowledge of the universe and the way that it works and does so in a defined manner and does not believe in intelligent design goes beyond me. I do not claim that I know how everything was created, all I am saying is that everything seems to have some kind of design behind it. Einstein's equation is constant, if things were not designed, they would be unpredictable, mathematics is not random.

        August 31, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
      • Akhra

        Funny to think their was only one religion in the history of the world to hint at believing their could be more life out their in the stars.... The ancient Egyptians. A great religious scholar once wrote that 'Egypt and all that she possess is the image of heaven, or better put, the workings of heaven transposed onto earth.' ... If you look at Egypt's geography and think about how out of the hundreds of thousands of square miles of land the country possesses one can only live along a very narrow strip of life giving land. Now through the image of Egypt up unto the stars. The vast majority of space is thus dead (desert) and cannot produce nor accommodate 'life'. BUT! there is a very narrow 'River' which cuts through the universe in which life can exist; and not only exist but flourish. We are part of that celestial river. Seeing as the Egyptians were obsessed with the star Siris and connected it to life and rebirth, perhaps we should journey down the river to Siris and go from there. Stop combing the desert for life and begin journeying the river where life can be found..... only need to find that river first! 😉

        August 31, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • God is a fable


      August 31, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • cleareye1

      You are in for a surprise. We are so insignificant.

      August 31, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • Judas Priest

      Obvious troll is obvious. But thanks for playing!

      August 31, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • Alex

      maybe they'll find the galaxy where god and jesus hang out with the tooth fairy and the easter bunny too...

      August 31, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • Azhar

      OH Yeah! If God created the heavens, stars and EVERYTHING. Then where did he stuff Hell? Please don't tell me it's underneath us.

      August 31, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
  16. Sensorium

    science is rad

    August 31, 2012 at 11:29 am |
  17. Franco

    The Bible answers the question, whether God is male or female. Read and find out, you may be surprised.

    August 31, 2012 at 11:25 am |
  18. Doug

    Is an amoeba male or female? It a lightbeam male or female? Is energy male or female? Is your mind male or female, not the leanings of your body but your mind? When you think "I love my child" is that love male or female?
    Not everything is defined so simply.

    August 31, 2012 at 9:56 am |
  19. Tim

    This Farnsworth guy is just jerking your chain everybody. No one is this crazy....are they?

    August 31, 2012 at 9:53 am |
  20. noddlez

    well, the best example or case to study I would assume, of a super-massive black hole at the center of a galaxy, would be our own Milky Way galaxy. Why are we looking elsewhere, when our own galaxy contains just as many phenomena as others?

    August 31, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • AndriconBoy

      You're right! There's no point in looking at the rest of the universe, especially since we already have an idea of what's in our galactic core. We should continue to look at the same thing, over and over, and not utilize all that fancy equipment we have to its fullest potential.

      August 31, 2012 at 9:41 am |
    • an Alien

      We look outside of our galaxy because we are interested in things we cannot get to even if we wanted to. They just all got bored and decided that the Milky Way was boring. I personally would want to see what was in the Andromeda Galaxy, just because it could possibly merge with our galaxy at some point.

      August 31, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • Matt

      Well noddlez, possibly for the same reason we don't actually know what our own galaxy really looks like. Because we'd have to be OUTSIDE the galaxy to look in. You can look at a frisbee and see its details perfectly clear. But if you're living on a speck of microscopic dirt located towards the outer edge of a frisbee, you won't be able to accurately see the big picture. But since we have BILLIONS of other galaxies that ARE clearly visible from the outside, we have a pretty large library to pull data from. Make sense?

      August 31, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • William

      We would look at our but it is obscured by the dust ring between us and the center of our galexy. Also the center of our galexy is extremely bright which also obscures our ability to see the observe the surrounding black hole.

      August 31, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • jazger

      as we're IN the milky way, its a bit harder to get a real good look at it. Oh we can see it.. but we'll never the the kind of view of it, we can get of other galaxies. plus by watching other areas of the universe, we get to see things that we can't in our own.

      Galaxies forming, crashing into each other.. and so one.

      then you also got to take into account – we've only a few hundrent billion or so stars in our galaxy, tis a lot to be sure..

      but.. we've also got, what billions? hundrents of billions of other galaxies?

      that maxs for a LOT of stars, so many that new ones are being born, and old ones dieing all the time. So, we get a chance to see that happen too.

      man.. space is sooooo freaking cool!

      August 31, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • Judas Priest

      I take this as an actual question, in which case it deserves more than a smartass response.
      It's not that we don't look at the center of our own galaxy, because we do; it's that we see the centers of other galaxies more clearly than we see our own. We are a good ways out from the center of the Milky Way, and a lot of stars and material is between the center and our world.

      August 31, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • lunchbreaker

      If you had read the article you would realize those galaxies are DIFFERENT from ours.

      August 31, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • Judas Priest

      Take your own advice. If you can't answer the question, just say you don't know. Don't use hostility to mask your ignorance.

      August 31, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • teviet

      Good question. The fact is, we do look at our own Galaxy, and at many others as well. If you look at millions of galaxies you'll see interesting stuff that happens only very rarely in any single galaxy. It's all very convenient to dig for gold in your own back yard, but your chances of finding something improve the more you look around.

      As for our own Galaxy's central black hole, it is indeed very interesting, but it has some disadvantages:

      1. It's only of middling size: a few million times the mass of the Sun. Some other galaxies have monsters that are billions of times as massive as the Sun.

      2. It's not particularly active at the moment. This depends on the amount of material in the vicinity of the black hole, which changes from epoch to epoch.

      3. It's within the flat disk of our Galaxy. So are we. This means that there's a lot of dust between us and it, which blocks most of the light. When we look up or down out of the disk of the Galaxy we're looking through much less dust.

      August 31, 2012 at 11:42 am |
  21. willy

    I don't know. Is our civilization really ready to know what are actually inside hot dogs?

    August 31, 2012 at 9:22 am |
    • Pliny

      A shiver just went down my spine

      August 31, 2012 at 9:39 am |
    • DB

      change your word "light" to "enlightenment" and you hit the nail on the head!

      August 31, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • TiredOfPaying

      Soylent Green is made out of people!

      August 31, 2012 at 11:56 am |
  22. smb04d

    If what we're seeing is 10 billion light years away, I wonder what the black hole is doing right now at this moment?

    August 31, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • Jokesterer

      That remains to be seen. Or not seen since "NOT EVEN LIGHT CAN ESCAPE."

      August 31, 2012 at 10:11 am |
  23. Buck Rogers

    "Hot DOGS" in space.... hmm, so what other food groups shall NASA find whilst searching for ET and our interstellar 'origins'? The other day I read they claim to be seeing "sugar molecules"... I'm beginning to wonder a wee bit about these chaps at NASA who brought us the fake moon landing inside their tin-can, and also claim to be 'hovering' over Earth inside the International Fake Station.... U suppose the entertainment is well worth the mega-buks we've been spending on their 'astro-evolutionary' fantasies...

    August 31, 2012 at 8:53 am |
    • snowboarder

      nasarthebest – always entertaining with your infantile website and your kooky conspiracy theories.

      August 31, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • snowboarder

      check out his website. go straight to the main page, skip the url he pasted.

      it is absolutely hilarious.

      August 31, 2012 at 9:18 am |
    • Matt

      I guess those images of Mars coming from Curiosity are fake too. Haha. Some people try so hard to deny the truth. Ignorance is bliss apparently...

      August 31, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • Judas Priest

      I might be inclined to read it if you could spell, capitalize properly, or proof-read. All of which can be done FOR you in Word, which runs on computers that were developed as a result of... the space program.

      August 31, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • ngc1300

      Of course the moon landings were fake, and so is the ISS, and Curiosity. The Earth is hollow, and populated by Intelligent reptiloids who control us, and Mt. Shasta is their corridor in and out. Sasquatch is real, and the birthers are right, Obama is not a US citizen, but they're wrong about him being a Kenyan. He's a descendant of one of the Roswell aliens, so he's not even human.

      So how about you pop a few beers, and watch something that IS real, like "Jersey Shores", or the Kardashians. Have a nice hallucination.

      August 31, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  24. snowboarder

    mfarnsworth – that is the cowards excuse for believing in god.

    August 31, 2012 at 8:51 am |
  25. Jo

    The universe is MUCH older than 6000 years old. "6000" is accepted amongst people who take the Bible litereally. Scienetists on the other hand have accepted that the universe is billions of years old.

    August 31, 2012 at 8:43 am |
    • Judas Priest

      Jo... Jokesterer is jokestering. Any 'scinieatatiest' could spot that.

      August 31, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
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