Galaxy collisions may not fuel black holes after all

Evidence has mounted that most galaxies harbor enormous black holes at their centers. Most of these, like the Milky Way's, are relatively quiet. But a few end up swallowing prodigious amounts of matter from their surroundings and blast out staggering amounts of energy, turning these active galactic nuclei into some of the brightest objects in space. What explains the difference? A popular idea was that galaxy mergers could disrupt a galaxy's internal structure, sending copious amounts of gas spiraling inwards. But a new survey of active galactic nuclei suggests that this model may need some serious revision.

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