SCIENCE: Black holes are universal

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The Independent Online
Evidence of a huge black hole at the heart of a nearby galaxy makes it more likely that the mysterious objects are a common feature of the universe. Astronomers using the Hubble space telescope discovered that mass equivalent to about 3.4 million suns was squashed into a region about one light year across at the centre of the galaxy Messier 32.

M32 is a small companion of the nearest large spiral galaxy to our own Milky Way - the Andromeda galaxy, 2.2 million light years away. Black holes, thought to form when massive stars shrink at the end of their lives, have such a strong gravity that nothing can escape from them, not even light. They distort time and space to such a degree that the normal laws of physics break down.

The findings are published in the science journal Nature by researchers from the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey.