Black holes are among the most intriguing and mysterious objects in the universe. They can typically be found at the centers of galaxies, where their incredible gravitational pulls draw in surrounding gasses, planets, stars, and other cosmic material. As this cosmic material spirals into black holes, large, flat accretion disks are created, which — due to the immense heat and forces exerted on the material — causes the disks to heat up and glow from blackbody radiation.
Interestingly, though, black holes only end up consuming a fraction of the gas and material in these accretion disks, with the remaining material being thrown out into space from the disk in multiple directions. In more dramatic cases, this excess material will be ejected into space at speeds so high that the interstellar gas surrounding black holes ends up being cleared away.
The clearing of interstellar gas around black holes means that the black holes will no longer have anything to consume and that no new stars can form in the regions surrounding the black holes — altering the structure of the galaxy. Recently, the European Space Agency’s (ESA) XMM-Newton X-ray observatory observed an average-sized black hole that is clearing the interstellar gas around it using its extreme “black hole wind” — which, before the XMM-Newton observations, had only ever been detected at extreme black holes featuring accretion disks that are at the limit of the amount of matter they can pull in.