Too Many Galaxies Are Too Bright and Space...Is a Little Bright Too!

It’s fun to poke at the Big Bang :slight_smile: - the galaxies are too mature, the black holes are too big, and now the galaxies are too bright.

When astronomers observed the universe with the infrared space telescope Herschel, they found that this theory largely checks out. However, in terms of absolute numbers, it looked like there are over an order of magnitude too many hyper-luminous infrared galaxies, both in the early universe and more recent epochs. Unfortunately, Herschel’s spatial resolution couldn’t resolve all individual galaxies, so they couldn’t say for sure.

An international team of astronomers, led by Lingyu Wang from SRON and RUG, has now used the LOFAR telescope—with higher spatial resolution—to distinguish galaxies individually. They found that indeed, there are over an order of magnitude more hyper-luminous galaxies than the theory predicts. With an uncertainty of a factor two, they can say for sure that we need to look for a different theory.

The Extremely Luminous Infrared Galaxy WISE J224607.57-052635.0, with a luminosity of 300 trillion suns, discovered in May, 2015 by NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), is the most luminous galaxy found, belonging to a new class of objects discovered by WISE, extremely luminous infrared galaxies, or ELIRGs. The black hole at its center was already billions of times the mass of our sun when our universe was only a tenth of its present age of 13.8 billion years.

“We are now studying what physical mechanisms can power such extreme galaxies,” says Wang. “Are they powered by star formation or by supermassive black hole accretion? If powered by star formation, hyper-luminous infrared galaxies would be forming stars at a few thousands solar masses per year. Theoretical models cannot produce that many galaxies forming stars at such extreme rates. So an alternative scenario is that they are predominantly powered by accretion activity around the central black hole. We need more follow-up observations to study the true nature of these extreme objects.”

And this is fun.

In fact, the amount of light coming from mysterious sources was about equal to all the light coming in from the known galaxies, says Marc Postman, an astronomer with the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. So maybe there are unrecognized galaxies out there, he says, “or some other source of light that we don’t yet know what it is.”

Or perhaps there’s a more exotic explanation — some unknown phenomenon out in the universe that creates visible light. It’s even possible it’s something associated with dark matter, a mysterious form of matter that exerts a gravitational pull on visible matter but has never been seen directly.

Fascinating. Someone like WLC is obsessed with the correctness of the Big Bang model. Go figure.

I don’t know what you’re talking about, but if WLC refers to me, I looked up some acronyms and they aren’t so nice. So please clarify.

Ahh that’s William Lane Craig, a famous Christian apologist, debater, and philosopher. He has made something of a career out of arguing that the big bang theory supports the existence of God.

That’s better than the few WLC in the urban dictionary. :sweat_smile:

No matter…Christian apologists will now just be able to say God must have made it all at once :slight_smile: Everything is an argument for God, right?

But really I think generally scientific arguments for God are not the most compelling ones because science always changes.

Theological arguments for God are not compelling, because theology is always changing.

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WLC in urban dictionary is an Short for Welcome, as “you’re welcome”. Commonly used in internet chat, but any sort of instant text messaging applies.