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Clocking the rotation rate of a supermassive black hole

11 March 2016 Astronomy Now

A recent observational campaign involving more than two dozen optical telescopes and NASA’s space-based SWIFT X-ray telescope allowed a team of astronomers to measure very accurately the rotational rate of one of the most massive black holes in the universe. The black hole powers a quasar called OJ 287 which lies about 3.5 billion light-years away from Earth.

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NASA’s Fermi finds hints of gamma-ray cycle in active galaxy

14 November 2015 Astronomy Now

Astronomers using data from NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope have detected hints of periodic changes in the brightness of a so-called “active” galaxy, whose emissions are powered by a supersized black hole. If confirmed, the discovery would mark the first years-long cyclic gamma-ray emission ever detected from any galaxy, which could provide new insights into physical processes near the black hole.