Active supermassive black holes may be rarer than previously thought

Perhaps our own galaxy’s black hole grew slower than suspected

In this illustration of a supermassive black hole, rays of bright gas escape from the center of a disc-shaped gray cloud.

Some supermassive black holes go through a phase of rapid growth, forming an active galactic nucleus (illustrated) that can glow brighter than the surrounding galaxy.

ESA, NASA and Paolo Padovani/AVO project

Fewer supermassive black holes may undergo growth spurts than astronomers had suspected.

Every known large galaxy hosts a gargantuan black hole at its center. Some of those behemoths experience bursts of beefing up, during which time they blaze brightly.