Using data from ESA’s XMM-Newton X-ray Observatory, Professor Pounds and colleagues looked at X-ray spectra from PG1211+143, a Seyfert galaxy (characterized by a very bright AGN resulting from the presence of the massive black hole at its nucleus) located in the constellation Coma Berenices, about one billion light-years away.

The team found the spectra to be strongly red-shifted, showing the observed matter to be falling into PG1211+143’s black hole at the enormous speed of 30% of the speed of light, or around 62,000 miles per second (100,000 km per second).

The gas has almost no rotation around the black hole, and is detected extremely close to it in astronomical terms, at a distance of only 20 times the black hole’s size (its event horizon, the boundary of the region where escape is no longer possible).

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