One of the brightest galaxies known is a mere 12.5 billion light years from Earth.

Known as W2246-0526, the galaxy is being torn apart by a powerful black hole, so mighty that the resulting energy moves gas across the galaxy. 

W2246-0526's luminous brilliance was discovered in 2015 using data from NASA's Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE). 

A new study now finds that the galaxy is ripping itself apart. The results have been published in Astrophysical Journal Letters.

"The momentum and energy of the particles of light deposited in the gas are so great that they are pushing the gas out in all directions," says Roberto Assef of Diego Portales University in Santiago, Chile.

The galaxy contains so much energy, the researchers liken it to a pot of boiling water heated up by a nuclear reactor at its centre.

This happens because of the supermassive black hole at the midpoint of the galaxy. Its gravitational pull is so great that it attacks all other matter and gas nearby.

Not all this material gets sucked into the black hole. Instead it forms an "accretion disk", a sort of halo made from gas and other matter. (A simulation of an accretion disk is visible here)

It is this disk that causes the galaxy to burn so intensely, brighter than 300 trillion suns, and causes such turbulence across the entire galaxy.

It is not yet clear whether the gas that is being pushed across will eventually leave the galaxy, or be devoured by the black hole. If it does leave, astronomers will be able to view the accretion disk in all its blinding detail. It is currently obscured by dust. 

(Lead image shows an artist's rendering of W2246-0526)