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Black hole’s annual feast begins

Astronomers offer explanations for source of light around object with an unusual yearly behavior

BEIJING — A black hole about 290 million light-years away has just begun slurping material from its surroundings, an annual ritual revealed by a periodic brightening in X-ray wavelengths.

“It is picking up again, just today — or last night — which is good,” astronomer Roberto Soria of the International Center for Radio Astronomy Research in Perth, Australia, said August 22 at the 28th General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union. “I was starting to get a bit worried because this cycle was three or four days late.”

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