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December 3, 2019

The ejection of the star S5-HVS1 from the center of our galaxy

Long, fast story short, by Dennis Overbye writing in the New York Times:

Astronomers recently discovered a star whizzing out of the center of our galaxy at the seriously blinding speed of four million miles an hour.

The astronomers hypothesize that the runaway star was once part of a double-star system that came too close to the black hole Sagittarius A* at the center of the Milky Way.

One of the pair fell in, and the other was sling-shotted away at hyper speed. 

The star, which goes by the typically inscrutable name S5-HVS1, is currently about 29,000 light-years from Earth, streaking through the Grus, or Crane, constellation in the southern sky.

The dance with S5-HVS1 unfolded about 5 million years ago.

The astronomers estimate that in about 100 million years the star will have exited the Milky Way entirely.

Out there, drifting among the other galaxies of the Local Group, far from the crowded circumstances of its birth, the star called S5-HVS1 will exhaust its thermonuclear fuel in about 2 billion years, blow up and die, alone.

December 3, 2019 at 04:01 PM | Permalink


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