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At the center of this galaxy, a supermassive black hole is feeding on the surrounding gas – a violent interaction that heats up the environment to incredible temperatures. It’s a quasar, one of the most powerful phenomena in the universe. Its jets of high-energy particles reach hundreds of thousands of light-years. But in its home galaxy, the quasar activity disrupts star birth, as the furious stirring prevents the gas from forming new stars – a good thing for life, since too many young stars would lead to too many stellar explosions and a life-threatening galactic environment.

The activity of supermassive black holes can crucially affect the habitability of a galaxy.