Supermassive black holes are the most massive objects in the universe and they are known to occupy the cores of most galaxies. They can "weigh in" at millions or even billions of times the mass of our sun, but it's not entirely clear how they came to be so huge.
But after staring deep in the core of the Abell 2597 galaxy cluster, around one billion light-years away, astronomers using the monster Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile had a surprise insight to the eating habits of one particular galaxy, wonderfully named "Abell 2597 Brightest Cluster Galaxy."
RELATED: Wormholes Might Burrow Through Black Hole Cores
ALMA's key advantage is that it can detect the emissions emanating from some of the coldest molecular clouds in the universe. These clouds are key to the birth of stars and, in this case, possibly a key component of a supermassive black hole's diet. While observing this particular galaxy, ALMA detected cold and dense molecular clouds condense out of hot intergalactic gas in the galaxy cluster. Then, like an ultra-violent rain storm, the cold gas down-poured onto the black hole.
WATCH VIDEO: The Race To See The Black Hole At The Center Of Our Galaxy