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For The First Time, Astronomers Caught a Black Hole Spewing Out Matter Twice

Black holes don't just sit there munching away constantly on the space around them. Eventually, they run out of nearby matter and go quiet, lying in wait until a stray bit of gas passes by. Then a black hole devours again, belching out a giant jet of particles. And now scientists have captured one doing so not once, but twice - the first time this has been observed.

The two burps, occurring within the span of 100,000 years, confirm that supermassive black holes go through cycles of hibernation and activity. But even though we're used to think how nothing ever comes back out of a black hole, the curious thing is that they don't retain everything they capture. When they consume matter such as gas or stars, they also generate a powerful outflow of highenergy particles from close to the event horizon, but not beyond the point of no return.

The black hole in question is the supermassive beast at the centre of a galaxy called SDSS J1354+1327 or just J1354 for short. It's about 800 lights years from Earth, and it showed up in Chandra data as a very bright point of Xray emission - bright enough to be millions or even billions of times more massive than our Sun. That evidence consists of two bubbles in the gas - one above and one below the black hole, expulsions particles following a meal. And they were able to gauge that the two bubbles had occurred at different times.

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