Black holes are parts of spacetime displaying such powerful gravitational pull that nothing – even light – can escape. Black holes were thought to take on the shape of a donut. But scientists  now need to re-write the astronomical rulebooks after proving black holes actually resemble 3D fountains.

It has until now been assumed that gas surrounding black holes was donut-shaped.

But scientists now believe the reality about black holes is far more complex, after studying one 14 million light-years away.

Gas surrounding black holes spews from them in a 3D fountain, new research has revealed.

Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimetre Array (ALMA) simulations now suggest the donut is really a more bizarre structure compromised of three constantly circulating gases.

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Researchers were observing a supermassive black hole at the centre of the Ciricinus galaxy.

Data from this was compared this with a simulation of gas into a black hole, using the Cray XC30 ATERUI supercomputer.

Their conclusions challenge the belief that matter falling into a black hole builds up around it to form a donut structure.

The results now suggest it is more of a three-step process.

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First, the cold gas forms a disk near the plane of rotation, heating up until the molecules break down.

Some of these molecules are expelled above and below the disk, then create a fountain-like structure.

“Previous theoretical models set a prior assumptions of rigid donuts,” said Keiichi Wada, a Kagoshima University theoretician.

“Rather than starting from assumptions, our simulation started from the physical equations and showed for the first time that the gas circulation naturally forms a donut.

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“Our simulation can also explain various observational features of the system.”

These findings have upended what we thought knew.

Keiichi Wada added: “By investigating the motion and distribution of both the cold molecular gas and warm atomic gas with ALMA, we demonstrated the origin of the so-called ‘donut’ structure around active black holes.

“Based on this discovery, we need to rewrite the astronomy textbooks.”

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