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Jellyfish galaxies are dead ringers for their aquatic namesakes, with blob-like bodies and star-studded tentacles that can be tens of thousands of light years long.

Now it seems these galaxies host highly active supermassive black holes, which may be fed by the same process that gives the galaxies their distinctive tentacles. The black holes are at the centres of the galaxies and tend to devour stars and other matter, says Bianca Poggianti at the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics.

Out of a sample of seven jellyfish galaxies, Poggianti and her team found that six contained huge black holes eating up hot gas from within each galaxy (Nature, DOI: 10.1038/nature23462). This suggests there is something about jellyfish galaxies that makes them the ideal feeding ground for supermassive black holes, she says.

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