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Supermassive black holes
By Reuters -
An artist's impression of a growing supermassive black hole located in the early Universe. Using the deepest X-ray image ever taken, astronomers found the first direct evidence that massive black holes were common in the early universe. This discovery shows that very young black holes grew more aggressively than previously thought, in tandem with the growth of their host galaxies. REUTERS/NASA/Chandra X-Ray Observatory 
A bright star-forming ring that surrounds the heart of the barred spiral galaxy NGC 1097, a Seyfert galaxy. The larger-scale structure of the galaxy is barely visible. Its comparatively dim spiral arms, which surround its heart in a loose embrace, reach out beyond the edges of this frame. This face-on galaxy, lying 45 million light-years away from Earth in the southern constellation of Fornax (The Furnace), is particularly attractive for astronomers. Lurking at the very center of the galaxy, a supermassive black hole 100 million times the mass of our Sun is gradually sucking in the matter around it. The area immediately around the black hole shines powerfully with radiation coming from the material falling in. The distinctive ring around the black hole is bursting with new star formation due to an inflow of material toward the central bar of the galaxy. The ring is around 5000 light-years across, although the spiral arms of the galaxy extend tens of thousands of light-years beyond it. REUTERS/NASA/ESA/Hubble 
A supermassive black hole with millions to billions times the mass of our sun. In this illustration, the supermassive black hole at the center is surrounded by matter flowing onto the black hole in what is termed an accretion disk. This disk forms as the dust and gas in the galaxy falls onto the hole, attracted by its gravity. Also shown is an outflowing jet of energetic particles, believed to be powered by the black hole's spin. REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech 
A supernova within the galaxy M100, that may contain the youngest known black hole in our cosmic neighborhood. X-ray observations suggest the object, a mere 50 million light-years away in a neighboring galaxy, is a black hole in the making. REUTERS/Chandra X-ray Observatory Center 
An artist's concept illustrates what the flaring black hole called GX 339-4 might look like. GX 339-4 likely formed from a star that exploded. It is surrounded by an accretion disk (red) of material being pulled onto the black hole from a neighboring star (yellow orb). Some of this material is shot away in the form of jets (yellow flows above and below the disk). The region close to the black hole glows brightly in infrared light. REUTERS/NASA/JPL 
Giant plumes of radiation seen in X-rays from Chandra (purple) and radio data from the Very Large Array (orange) from radio galaxy 3C353, a wide, double-lobed active galaxy that is very luminous at radio wavelengths, where the galaxy is the tiny point in the center. Jets generated by supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies can transport huge amounts of energy across great distances. REUTERS/X-ray: NASA/CXC/Tokyo Institute of Technology 
The spiral galaxy NGC 4845, located over 65 million light-years away in the constellation of Virgo (The Virgin). The galaxy's orientation clearly reveals the striking spiral structure: a flat and dust-mottled disc surrounding a bright galactic bulge. NGC 4845's glowing center hosts a gigantic version of a black hole, known as a supermassive black hole. REUTERS/NASA 
An artist's concept chronicles a star being ripped apart and swallowed by a black hole. First, the intact sun-like star (left) ventures too close to the black hole, and its own self-gravity is overwhelmed by the black hole's gravity. The star then stretches apart (middle yellow blob) and eventually breaks into stellar crumbs, some of which swirl into the black hole (cloudy ring at right). This doomed material heats up and radiates light, including ultraviolet light, before disappearing forever into the black hole. The Galaxy Evolution Explorer was able to watch this process unfold by observing changes in ultraviolet light. The area around the black hole appears warped because the gravity of the black hole acts like a lens, twisting and distorting light. REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech 
A ring of stars circling Sagittarius A*, the Milky Way's central black hole, shows a combination of infrared and X-ray observations indicating that a surplus of massive stars has formed from a large disk of gas around the black hole. Dozens of massive stars, destined for a short but brilliant life, were born less than a light-year away from the Milky Way's central black hole, one of the most hostile environments in our galaxy. REUTERS/NASA/CXC/M. Weiss 
A composite image shows the jet from a black hole at the center of a galaxy striking the edge of another galaxy, the first time such an interaction has been found. In the image, data from several wavelengths have been combined. X-rays from Chandra (colored purple), optical and ultraviolet (UV) data from Hubble (red and orange), and radio emission from the Very Large Array (VLA) and MERLIN (blue) show how the jet from the main galaxy on the lower left is striking its companion galaxy to the upper right. The jet impacts the companion galaxy at its edge and is then disrupted and deflected, much like how a stream of water from a hose will splay out after hitting a wall at an angle. REUTERS/NASA 
The barred spiral galaxy NGC 4639, over 70 million light-years away in the constellation of Virgo, one of about 1500 galaxies that make up the Virgo Cluster. NGC 4639 also conceals a massive black hole that is consuming the surrounding gas. REUTERS/ESA/Hubble/NASA 
The extraordinary outburst by a black hole in the spiral galaxy M83, located about 15 million light years from Earth. REUTERS/NASA 
Hubble's panchromatic vision, stretching from ultraviolet through near-infrared wavelengths, reveals the vibrant glow of young, blue star clusters and a glimpse into regions normally obscured by the dust. The warped shape of Centaurus A's disk of gas and dust is evidence for a past collision and merger with another galaxy. The resulting shockwaves cause hydrogen gas clouds to compress, triggering a firestorm of new star formation. At a distance of just over 11 million light-years, Centaurus A contains the closest active galactic nucleus to Earth. The center is home for a supermassive black hole that ejects jets of high-speed gas into space, but neither the supermassive or the jets are visible in this image. REUTERS/NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage 
A composite image of a galaxy illustrating how the intense gravity of a supermassive black hole can be tapped to generate immense power. This multi-wavelength view shows 4C+29.30, a galaxy located some 850 million light years from Earth. The estimated mass of the black hole is about 100 million times the mass of our Sun. REUTERS/NASA 
A coiled galaxy with an eye-like object at its center. The galaxy, called NGC 1097, is located 50 million light-years away. It is spiral-shaped like our Milky Way, with long, spindly arms of stars. The "eye" at the center of the galaxy is actually a monstrous black hole surrounded by a ring of stars. REUTERS/NASA 
The galaxy cluster PKS 0745-19. The black hole at the center of this galaxy is part of a 2012 survey of 18 of the biggest known black holes in the universe. Researchers found that the black holes in the survey may be about ten times more massive than previously thought. REUTERS/NASA 
An artist's impression of a black hole engine. Black holes are the most fuel-efficient engines in the universe. If a car could use this kind of engine, it could theoretically go about a billion miles (1.6 billion km) on a gallon (4.5 litres) of gas, said Steve Allen of Stanford University in California. Fueled by matter lured by the holes' vast gravity, most of the energy released by this matter as it gets close to the black hole's point of no return -- known as the event horizon -- shows up in the form of high-energy jets, which spew forth from magnetized disks of gas. REUTERS/NASA 
A galaxy known as NGC 3081, located over 86 million light-years from Earth. The galaxy's barred spiral center is surrounded by a bright loop known as a resonance ring. This ring is full of bright clusters and bursts of new star formation, and frames the supermassive black hole thought to be lurking within NGC 3081 - which glows brightly as it hungrily gobbles up in-falling material. REUTERS/NASA 
Markarian 231, a binary black hole found in the center of the nearest quasar host galaxy to Earth. Like a pair of whirling skaters, the black-hole duo generates tremendous amounts of energy that makes the core of the host galaxy outshine the glow of the galaxy's population of billions of stars. REUTERS/NASA 
Galaxy 1068, located about 47 million light-years away in the constellation Cetus. The X-ray light is coming from an active supermassive black hole, also known as a quasar, in the center of the galaxy. This supermassive black hole has been extensively studied due to its relatively close proximity to our galaxy. REUTERS/NASA 
Galaxy NGC 4945, which is similar in overall appearance to our own Milky Way, but contains a much more active supermassive black hole within the white area near the top. NGC 49445 is approximately 13 million light years from Earth. REUTERS/NASA 
The barred spiral galaxy NGC 4639, over 70 million light-years away in the constellation of Virgo is one of about 1500 galaxies that make up the Virgo Cluster. NGC 4639 also conceals a massive black hole that is consuming the surrounding gas, according to a NASA news release. REUTERS/ESA/Hubble/NASA 
Multiple images of a distant quasar from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Hubble Space Telescope. In 2014, scientists measured the spin of a distant supermassive black hole and found that its rate of rotation is about 3.5 trillion mph -- roughly half the speed of light. The finding provides insights into how the black hole and its host galaxy formed. REUTERS/NASA 
One of the lowest mass supermassive black holes ever observed in the middle of a galaxy located in the middle of the spiral galaxy NGC 4178. REUTERS/NASA 
A supermassive black hole with millions to billions times the mass of our sun at the center, surrounded by matter flowing onto the black hole in what is termed an accretion disk. Supermassive black holes are enormously dense objects buried at the hearts of galaxies. This disk forms as the dust and gas in the galaxy falls onto the hole, attracted by its gravity. Also shown is an outflowing jet of energetic particles, believed to be powered by the black hole's spin. The regions near black holes contain compact sources of high energy X-ray radiation thought, in some scenarios, to originate from the base of these jets. This high energy X-radiation lights up the disk, which reflects it, making the disk a source of X-rays. The reflected light enables astronomers to see how fast matter is swirling in the inner region of the disk, and ultimately to measure the black hole's spin rate. REUTERS/NASA 
A galaxy located about 40 million light-years away in the constellation of Dorado (The Dolphinfish). The small but extremely bright nucleus of the NGC 1566 is clearly visible in this image, a telltale sign of its membership of the Seyfert class of galaxies. The centers of such galaxies are very active and luminous, emitting strong bursts of radiation and potentially harboring supermassive black holes that are many millions of times the mass of the Sun. NGC 1566 is the second brightest Seyfert galaxy known. It is also the brightest and most dominant member of the Dorado Group, which is a loose concentration of galaxies that collectively comprise one of the richest galaxy groups of the southern hemisphere. REUTERS/ESA/Hubble/NASA 
Evidence for the presence of a jet of high-energy particles blasting out of the Milky Way's supermassive black hole released in 2013. Astronomers have been looking for a jet from Sgr A* for years since it is now common to find jets tied to a range of cosmic objects on both big and small scales. REUTERS/NASA 
The most distant X-ray jet from a quasar named GB 1428+4217, located 12.4 billion light years from Earth. Giant black holes at the centers of galaxies can pull in matter at a rapid rate producing the quasar phenomenon. The researchers believe the length of the jet in GB 1428 is at least 230,000 light years, or about twice the diameter of the entire Milky Way galaxy. REUTERS/NASA 
Two very different galaxies drifting through space together, Arp 116 which is composed of a giant elliptical galaxy known as Messier 60 or M60 (C) and a much smaller spiral galaxy, NGC 4647. M60 is the third brightest galaxy in the Virgo cluster of galaxies, a collection of more than 1,300 galaxies. M60 has a diameter of 120,000 light-years and a mass of about one trillion times that of the Sun. A huge black hole of 4.5 billion solar masses lies at its center, one of the most massive black holes ever found. REUTERS/NASA 
A composite image from NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) and the European Southern Observatory in Chile shows the Sculptor galaxy in this image released June 11, 2013 by NASA. Visible data from the European Space Observatory show the backbone of the galaxy made up of stars, while NuSTAR data, which appear as colored blobs, show high-energy X-rays. The NuSTAR observations are the sharpest ever taken of this galaxy in high-energy X-rays. The findings, when combined with those from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, suggest that the supermassive black hole at the center of the Sculptor galaxy, also known as NGC 253, has dozed off, or gone inactive, sometime in the past decade. REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech/JHU/Handout via Reuters