19 March 2018

A super-fast star system has been discovered

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Thousands of light-years away, on the outskirts of the Milky Way, astronomers have detected something no one’s ever seen before - a binary star (two stars orbiting a common centre of mass) that’s moving so fast, it’s clocked speeds that almost rival the escape velocity of our galaxy.

Named PB3877, and located about 18,000 light-years away from Earth, this binary star is not the first hyper-velocity star we’ve found in our galaxy. Astronomers have so far identified more than 20 hyper-velocity stars that seem hell-bent on getting the eff out of our cosmic neighbourhood.

One such hyper-velocity star is US 708, which was confirmed in 2005 to be hurtling through the Milky Way at about 745 miles per second (that's 1,198 km per second, or 2.7 million miles per hour) - fast enough to escape the gravitational pull of the galaxy.

"At that speed you could travel from Earth to the Moon in 5 minutes," said one of the researchers who found US 708, Eugene Magnier from the University of Hawaii. US 708 is expected to leave the Milky Way in about 25 million years.

But all other hyper-velocity stars we’ve found up till this moment have been single stars. This is the first time astronomers have found a double-star system that’s achieved hyper-velocity speeds.

2016.04.13 / 14:10
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