Unless you’re an astronomer, you probably don’t think of stars as moving all that quickly. You might not even know they move at all. If that’s the case, you’d be surprised to learn that a star called S5-HVS1 is zipping through our galaxy at over ten thousand miles per second.
As with many of the best discoveries, astronomers found this rogue star entirely by accident. One o them was going through some of the survey data when he came across some unusual readings. He was looking for stars with unusually rapid orbits, but was surprised to find one fleeing the galaxy at record speeds…
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What’s so special about this star? 1:24
Hypervelocity stars 2:02
Why is it getting expelled from the galaxy? 3:10
What a three-body exchange is 3:33
The supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy 5:57
Two theories about this star 7:05
#space #stars #brightside
– It’s hard to tell by looking at them, but stars are in constant motion, orbiting the center of the galaxy just like the Earth orbits the sun.
– S5-HVS1 (you know, let’s just him “Speedy”) is no ordinary star, and its movement isn’t at all normal. This recently discovered star is racing toward the outer edge of our galaxy, having been ejected from its orbit at a velocity never before seen in recorded history.
– Astronomers classify this white-hot ball of plasma as an A-type main-sequence star and have estimated it to be more than two times the size of the Sun.
– When a star goes supernova, it doesn’t always explode evenly. These lopsided detonations not only expel a few dozen Suns worth of gas and plasma, but also hurl what remains of the star through the cosmos at almost half the speed of light.
– But Speedy isn’t a neutron star. So why is it getting expelled from the galaxy like a spare tire improperly secured to the back of a truck?
– Things can get pretty wild when black holes are added to the mix. In this analogy, they’d be somebody’s loud friend who’s always around, leaving dishes in the sink and drinking the last Coke without asking.
– When these binary systems drift too close to a black hole, its mass disrupts the delicate balance of gravity and momentum that keeps the system stable.
– If you ever swung your keychain around your finger only to have it soar out of reach, you’ve seen a version of this in action.
– What differentiates Speedy from the other black hole ejections is the star’s comparatively low mass.
– To generate that much energy with a star that small, the black hole that disrupted Speedy’s orbit would need to be extremely massive.
– Before being batted across the universe, Speedy would’ve been paired with a second, much smaller star.
– Both stars originated in the supermassive black hole’s accretion disk.
– Astronomers may not have a perfect answer yet, but Speedy is still under observation and there’s no doubt more to uncover.
– For now, astronomers are eager to find more hypervelocity stars in hopes of gaining a better understanding of what’s going on in the Galactic Center, and how mass is distributed across the vast collection of stars we call the Milky Way.
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