Black holes at the heart of galaxies could swell to 50 billion times the mass of the Sun before losing the disks of gas they rely on to sustain themselves, according to research at the University of Leicester.

In a study titled “How Big Can a Black Hole Grow?” Andrew King from the University of Leicester explores supermassive black holes at the center of galaxies, around which are regions of space where gas settles into an orbiting disk.

This gas can lose energy and fall inwards, feeding the black hole. But these disks are known to be unstable and prone to crumbling into stars.

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