This image of the Andromeda galaxy uses data from NASA’s retired Spitzer Space Telescope. Multiple wavelengths are shown, revealing stars (in blue and cyan), dust (red), and areas of star formation. Dust swirls around like water going down a drain, as the black hole at the heart of the Andromeda consumes it.
NASA-JPL/Caltech; image processing by IPAC/Robert Hurt

This image, released on May 9, 2024, from NASA’s retired Spitzer Space Telescope shows streams of dust flowing toward the supermassive black hole at the heart of the Andromeda Galaxy. These dust streams can help explain how black holes billions of times the mass of our Sun can satiate their big appetites but remain “quiet” eaters.

Read on to learn how data from Spitzer helped shed light on how some black holes consume gas and dust.

Image Credit: NASA-JPL/Caltech