A solitary star traveling at blistering speed is on track to be ejected from the Milky Way galaxy and into intergalactic space. Astronomers think the monstrous black hole at the center of the galaxy propelled it, and it affirms a theory they’ve since quite a while ago held however always been unable to see up to this point.
The cosmologists, whose discoveries are published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, say the star is traveling at 3.7 million mph (1,027 miles per second) — around 10 times quicker than the majority of the stars in the galaxy.
“The velocity of the discovered star is so high that it will inevitably leave the Galaxy and never return,” co-author Douglas Boubert of the University of Oxford, said in a statement.
For perspective, the average distance between the Earth and Mars is 140 million miles. The star could travel that distance in around 37 hours.
The star, called S5-HVS1, passed within 29,000 light-years of Earth — passing through a neighborhood in astronomical standards. That gave astronomers an uncommon opportunity to watch it and follow its footsteps back to the center of the Milky Way. There resides Sagittarius A — a monstrous black hole that is 4 million times the mass of the sun.
Astronomers believe that around 5 million years prior, S5-HSV1 was part of a binary system, matched with another star. That companion star was caught and swallowed up by the black hole while S5-HSV1 was propelled away at a huge number of miles per second.
“This is super exciting, as we have long suspected that black holes can eject stars with very high velocities. However, we never had an unambiguous association of such a fast start with the Galactic Center,” said lead author Sergey Koposov of Carnegie Mellon University.
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