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Observations showing a roughly donut-shaped cloud of cosmic dust and gas shrouding a huge black hole at the heart of a galaxy similar in size to our Milky Way are providing scientists with new clarity about the universe’s most energetic objects.

Scientists on Wednesday said their observations involving the supermassive black hole at the center of galaxy Messier 77 and its surrounding cloud lend support to predictions made three decades ago about what are called “active galactic nuclei.”

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