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Astronomers peering across the universe think they’ve caught a dozen quasars—extremely bright and distant objects powered by ravenous supermassive black holes at the centers of ancient galaxies—in a disappearing act. Or at least transitioning into their quiescent and dimmer counterparts: galaxies with starving black holes at their cores. The surprising find has astronomers asking whether these objects are shutting down permanently or simply flickering out for the time being.

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