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Supermassive black holes seen in galaxies are pancake shaped: Scientists

The existence of supermassive black holes in the centre of most galaxies in the cosmos is now well-known. Even so, there is still a lot we don’t know about these concentrates of gravity. New research published in Nature shows how black holes are more like pancakes than doughnuts, altering our view of galaxies and how they develop.

A black hole has been discovered in the centre of the galaxy Messier 77, a spiral galaxy 47 million light-years distant from Earth. The same galaxy is the basis of the Unified Model of Active Galactic Nuclei which posits that differences in our observations of different active galactic nuclei (black holes) are due to the angle from which we are viewing them because they are all hidden by a torus (a doughnut-shaped object) of dust and gas.

When the matter is drawn inward to fuel the black holes, the nuclei become active, forming this massive cloud. Scientists are certain that Active Galactic Nuclei are ‘a large class of mysterious phenomena with a single mechanism’ based on studies of Messier 77.

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‘The dust torus is indeed hiding the central structure in [Messier 77], but it looks more like a pancake with a central hole… And we see flows of the material above that ‘pancake’ — The central hot source is burning the edges of the hole in the pancake and we see the smoke’, Université de la Côte d’Azur astronomer Romain Petrov said.

What exactly does this imply? It effectively proves the unified theory, which may now aid scientists in better understanding the formation of galaxies, black holes, planets, solar systems, and even life as we know it.


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