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Black holes are mostly takers, not givers, but collisions among matter around a spinning black hole can result in high-energy particles that emerge with some of the black hole’s energy. Decades-old calculations showing only a modest energy gain for such particles are now contradicted by new results from two theoretical efforts showing that a particle can take away more than 10 times the energy that was put in. There are still questions about the feasibility of such collisions, but they might help astrophysicists understand some unexplained observations, such as an excess of gamma rays from the galactic center or ultrahigh-energy cosmic rays.

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