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ESO observes black hole in action

A team of European astronomers has discovered something astounding in outer space. They have been observing as a black hole attracts and stretches out a gas cloud many times the size of the earth.

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The European Southern Observatory (ESO), based at Garching, just outside of Munich, posted the news about the astronomers’ discovery on the organization’s website on Wednesday.

Using the ESO’s Very Large Telescope, which is located in northern Chile, the astronomers first discovered the cloud two years ago, but now it is making its closest approach to the black hole.

"The cloud is so stretched that the close approach is not a single event but rather a process that extends over a period of at least one year," Stefan Gillessen of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics at Garching said.

pfd/kms (dpa, AFP)