The majority of galaxies have a supermassive black hole at their core. And, like our own Milky Way version, most of these black holes are relatively quiet. However, a minority of supermassive black holes are incredibly active, consuming dust, gas, and other matter at an extraordinary rate and emitting large amounts of energy. Scientists call these black holes active galactic nuclei.
Generally, these active galactic nuclei all look the same, with a donut-shaped ring of dust, or a torus, surrounding the black hole. Now, scientists have determined that the tori around active supermassive black holes are actually much smaller than originally theorized. The study will be published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.