Six stars with masses similar to our own Sun have been spotted hurtling through the Milky Way at phenomenal speeds of up to two million miles per hour, new research claims.
Astronomers say these ‘hypervelocity stars’ – the first of their kind to be discovered – could have been ejected from the supermassive black hole at our galaxy’s centre.
They say their discovery could answer questions about how stars form in the dust-shrouded galactic core, 26,000 light years from us.
New discovery: Hypervelocity stars hurtle outwards from the centre of the galaxy, where a supermassive black hole is thought to generate the forces to eject them across the universe
According to a new theory, these cosmic speed demons were originally part of binary systems which formed there but were thrown from the galactic centre when the black hole devoured their twins, Space.com reports.
Keith Hawkins, an astronomy student at Ohio University, and author of a paper outlining the theory, told the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society last month: ‘These are incredibly fast-moving objects that are actually gravitationally unbound to the Milky Way.’
However, because they emanate from the galactic centre, identifying and analysing them could help scientists understand what exactly is going on in this star-forming region.
Until recently, astronomers seaching for hypervelocity stars looked for bright, blue stars hovering around regions of space where they were not expected to form.
While easy to find, those stars are typically three or four times bigger than our own Sun, which made them rather unusual speciments in a galaxy which mainly consists of Sun-like or smaller stars.Read more: dailymail.co.uk