When NASA focuses on a distant galaxy, you can often come to terms with it. Even if it seems to be just a blob, scientists can often combine different observations to determine the size and shape of the galaxy. They usually just sit in space, creating new stars and doing other things that galaxies do. But the last shutter of the galaxy called WISE J224607.55-052634.9 is unique.
Discovered a few years ago, new observations of the galaxy using the ALMA array in Chile show that the galaxy actually devours its neighbors. From our observation point, the galaxy breaks up three smaller galaxies, tearing the gravitational material out of them.
NASA says that WISE J224607.55-052634.9 is considered the "brightest" galaxy, and this new observation helps explain why.
The extremely bright galaxy is not a record size, so why is it so bright? Scientists now believe that the galaxy basically steals "fuel" to feed its energy from three neighboring galaxies. When intense gravity sucks material from three smaller galaxies, the larger central body continues to generate new stars and causes the heated gas and debris to shine brightly around the black hole in the heart.
Researchers had the feeling that an incredibly bright galaxy has several neighbors, but she had no idea that she was actually feeding them. Their work has been published in the journal Science.
"We knew from previous data that there were three accompanying galaxies, but there was no evidence of interaction between these neighbors and the central source," said Tanio Diaz-Santos, the lead author of the study, in a statement. "We were not looking for cannibalistic behavior and we did not expect it, but this deep diving from the ALMA observatory makes it very bright."
WISE J224607.55-052634.9 may be hungry, but you do not have to worry that our Milky Way will fall victim to its voracious ways. The galaxy is estimated to be 12.4 billion light years from Earth.