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Astronomers observe evolution of a black hole as it wolfs down stellar material: Halo of highly energized electrons around the black hole contracts dramatically during feeding frenzy

On March 11, an instrument aboard the International Space Station detected an enormous explosion of X-ray light that grew to be six times as bright as the Crab Nebula, nearly 10,000 light years away from Earth. Scientists determined the source was a black hole caught in the midst of an outburst -- an extreme phase in which a black hole can spew brilliant bursts of X-ray energy as it devours an avalanche of gas and dust from a nearby star.

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