Black hole at the center of Milky Way powers galaxy’s fastest stars

July 23rd, 2010 - 3:01 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, July 23 (ANI): Astronomers have found that a black hole at the centre of the Milky Way is shooting “hypervelocity stars” out of the galaxy at up to 1.8 million miles per hour.

“It’s an example of a very violent interaction that happens as a direct consequence of the black hole there.

“We had theorized that you could only get such high velocity if you kick a star from very close to a black hole in a special way that involves another star or object,” said Oleg Gnedin, an assistant professor in the University of Michigan Department of Astronomy.

It’s a three-body interaction. The black hole rips apart a binary or tertiary star system, captures one of the companions and jettisons the others,” he added.

Tracking hypervelocity star paths across the sky could help astronomers map the shape and gravitational potential of our galaxy and its dark matter halo, Gnedin said.

“This star was problematic from the beginning,” he said.

“It was the most massive of all the hypervelocity stars we found and therefore it appeared to have the shortest lifetime, about five times shorter than the expected flight time from center of the galaxy to its current position if it was ejected.

A solutions for that is that it is a blue straggler, a binary system of two stars that were ejected together and merged during flight,” Gnedin explained. (ANI)

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