An artist's illustration shows 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 ... more 
An artist's illustration shows 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 in this NASA illustration released on February 27, 2013. 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/JPL-Caltech/Handout) less 
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Reuters | Photo By REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Handout
Wed, Dec 18, 2013 2:00 PM EST