See Inside Scientific American Volume 307, Issue 2

How Black Holes Shape the Galaxies, Stars and Planets around Them

The matter-eating beast at the center of the Milky Way may actually account for Earth's existence and habitability

Vault 49

Adapted from Gravity’s Engines: How Bubble-Blowing Black Holes Rule Galaxies, Stars, and Life in the Cosmos, by Caleb Scharf, by arrange­ment with Scientific American/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC (US), Penguin Press (UK), Hayakawa Shobo (Japan) and Prószy´nski (Poland). Copyright © 2012 by Caleb Scharf.

Our existence in this place, this microscopic corner of the cosmos, is fleeting. with utter disregard for our wants and needs, nature plays out its grand acts on scales of space and time that are truly hard to grasp. Perhaps all that we can look to for real solace is our endless capacity to ask questions and seek answers about the place we find ourselves in. One of the questions we are now asking is how deeply our specific circumstances are connected to this majestic universal scheme of stars, galaxies and black holes.

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