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black hole

  1. A Black Hole-Powered Quasar Is Showing Astronomers That the Universe Is Pretty Gassy

    Turns out the universe owes everyone a big "excuse me."

    Computer simulations have previously shown astronomers that the universe was, well, pretty gassy, but they're just now getting their first glimpse of the universe's gas, and they didn't even have to hold a match up in front of its butt to do so. While that's mildly disappointing, a black hole-powered quasar lighting it up is still pretty cool.

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  2. Watch a Black Hole Feed on Its Planet-Sized Prey [Video]

    We were too far away to try to stop it. All we could do is watch, helpless, horrified, and secretly delighted, as the event unfolded beyond our reach. The crime: A black hole 47 million light years away, after stirred from its dormancy, fed on a planet-like object that could have had up to 30 times the mass of Jupiter. That's one hungry light-sucking hole!

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  3. Star Takes Less Than Three Hours to Orbit the Black Hole That’s Eating It [Video]

    Astronomers at the European Space Agency have found a binary star-and-black-hole that orbit one another once every 2.4 hours, making them the most swiftly orbiting binary objects ever recorded. Of course, the star -- a tiny red dwarf just 20% as massive as our own Sun-- is being actively consumed by the black hole, so this is less like traditional orbiting, like we do with the Sun, and more like watching a cat play with a wounded mouse on a cosmic scale. Keep reading to get a look at the ESA's animated rendering of the new fastest known orbit in action.

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  4. Breathtaking New Image Of Galaxy M106 Is Incredible, May Teach Us a Thing or Two About Black Holes

    This new image of galaxy Messier 106 (M106), a spiral galaxy about 20 million light years from our own, is a mosaic assembling images from the Hubble space Telescope's image archives and the libraries of amateur stargazers to produce a startlingly beautiful image that reveals some brand new information about the galaxy -- for example, that this spiral galaxy has four arms, rather than the customary two.

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  5. Astronomers Measure Black Hole With Mass of 17 Billion Suns

    Back holes are pretty massive as a rule, but this one in galaxy NGC 1277 might be the most massive one ever measured. Astronomers at the McDonald Observatory at the University of Texas have measured a super-sized black hole with a mass equal to 17 billion Suns. The black hole takes up a never-before-seen percentage of the galaxy's total mass, and gives us all a new gold standard against which to compare a friend's mother when telling "yo momma" jokes.

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  6. Mysterious "Hanny's Voorwerp" Looks Like a Hydralisk, Could be Caused by Black Holes

    Hanny's Voorwerp was discovered in 2007 by Dutch astronomy enthusiast Hanny van Arkel as part of the citizen science project called Galaxy Zoo. When it was discovered, scientists were unable to discern exactly what was causing the cloud of gas to glow with, quite literally, the strength of 30,000 suns when it had no apparent  source of energy. Gamers were likely immediately suspicious as the mysterious object has more than a passing resemblance to a hydralisk (pictured right). Scientists now think that Voorwerps, which is Dutch for "thing," could be a tell-tale sign of a supermassive black hole, and are more common than previously assumed.

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  7. Pulsar and Black Hole Combo Could Shed Light on Other Dimensions

    Virginia Tech scientist John Simonetti thinks he can prove the existence of multiple dimensions, and all he needs to do it is a black hole with an orbiting pulsar. Simple, right? Far from being the unstoppable monsters, black holes are thought to slowly lose mass over time through a process called Hawking Radiation. Emitting just a few particles at a time, the black holes shrink and are believed to lose their hold on orbiting matter in the process. However, if the extra dimensions described by String Theory exist then black holes should lose mass at a faster rate. These additional dimensions, Simonetti believes, would give additional means of escape for those Hawking Radiation particles. Here's where the Pulsar comes in.

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  8. Farthest, Largest Mass of Water Discovered Around Quasar

    Two teams working with researchers from the California Institute of Technology have discovered the largest mass of water yet observed. The gaseous, watery cloud was spotted around the quasar APM 08279+5255 some 30 billion trillion miles from Earth. And yes, there will be a lot more "-illions" used before the end of this post. The water surrounding the quasar is in the form of vapor, but taken all together it is about 140 trillion times the amount of water in Earth's oceans and is 100,000 times more massive than our sun. Because the quasar is so far away, its light has taken 12 billion years to reach Earth. This fantastic distance gives scientists a unique look at what the universe looked like when it was a mere 1.6 billion years old. (For reference, NASA estimates that the universe is about 13.7 billion years old.) Interestingly, water is not uncommon throughout the universe, though the amount of water around this quasar alone is estimated to be 4,000 times the water in the Milky Way.

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  9. Did Scientists Just See a Star Eaten by a Black Hole?

    On March 28, NASA's Swift gamma ray burst observatory saw a tremendous flash of light some four billion light years away. While it was initially chalked up to an exploding star, new analysis seems to indicate that a star may have been pulled into a black hole. If true, this would be only the second time this has been observed. Because of the distance, we can never be certain about what happened to the star. However, there's quite a bit of evidence that the star met its end in the belly of a black hole. Normally, gamma ray bursts occur when a large star collapses and becomes a black hole. But this time, the intensity of the light grew and faded over time, which would fit scientists understanding of how black holes consume matter.

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