It is well known that black holes with masses of order million to billion solar masses inhabit the centres of most if not all galaxies. Such black holes may intermittently accrete material from their immediate environs, grow as a result, and affect their environment via radiative and mechanical processes. The physics underlying the rapid growth phase of — so called, active — black holes is poorly understood and yet has far reaching implications for understanding astrophysical black holes, the evolution of galaxies, gravitational-waves detection by upcoming missions, and cosmology. Attempts to shed light on the physics of this celestial phenomenon will be reviewed, and recent progress in mapping the immediate environs of active black holes, which cannot be spatially resolved by standard imaging techniques, will be presented. The role of a new astronomical observatory, which is currently under construction by the University of Haifa, in advancing the field will be highlighted.