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NASA's Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer telescope discovered millions of supermassive black holes and "extreme" galaxies.
NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey (WISE) telescope discovered millions of previously unknown supermassive black holes and "extreme" galaxies, according to the BBC.
The telescope was able to look beyond cosmic dust because it can "see" in wavelengths correlated with heat, the BBC said.
Some of the galaxies it has spotted are the brightest ever found, around 1,000 times more luminous than our own, according to The Atlantic. The dust-obscured galaxies have very high temperatures and are called "hot DOGs" for short, CNN noted.
"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, according to CNN. "We are finding quite a few objects here that are brighter than what we knew before, and we’ve only combed through about 10 percent of these hot DOGs."
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The telescope also potentially found around 2.5 million supermassive black holes, said The Atlantic. The supermassive black holes, known as quasars, outnumber galaxies, and emit some of the brightest light in the universe from the matter they devour.
"WISE has found a bonanza of black holes in the universe," said astronomer Daniel Stern of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory on Wednesday, according to Space.com. "We expected that there should be this large population of hidden quasars in the universe, but WISE can now identify them across the sky. We think these quasars are really important for shaping how galaxies look today."
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Data from WISE will be combined with information gathered by NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array in order to explore the behavior of these supermassive black holes, CNN noted. Experts suggest that WISE's mission will also uncover the evolution of galaxies.