200 years ago, the Milky Way’s central black hole briefly awoke

The behemoth has been quiet and dim since it was discovered in the 1990s

An image of cosmic clouds glowing in X-rays.

Cosmic clouds glowing in X-rays (orange) in this image, which combines data from NASA’s IXPE and Chandra telescopes, show that the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole had a brief burst of activity 200 years ago.

IXPE: F. Marin et al, MSFC, NASA; Chandra: SAO/CXC/NASA; Image Processing: L. Frattare, J. Major and K. Arcand