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Feeding frenzy of a supermassive black hole

A galaxy’s central black hole roars to life when a normal star ventures too close.
The center of the Milky Way Galaxy harbors a supermassive black hole with a mass some 4 million times that of the Sun. The region immediately surrounding its event horizon — the radius at which a beam of light would just fail to escape the object’s gravitational clutches — is currently pretty empty. Without much material, the black hole remains fairly quiet, at least when compared with the supermassive black holes in some other galaxies.

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