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SCI/TECH: Star Set to Escape Galaxy

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posted on Feb, 12 2005 @ 07:30 AM
Star SDSS J090745.0+24507 is currently on a path to leave the entire galaxy. Its current speed of roughly 1.5 million mph (670 km/s) is around twice the Galactic Escape Velocity (the speed needed to 'escape' the gravitational pull of what you are orbiting), and far faster than anything ever seen.
Having lost its companion in a close brush our Milky Way's supermassive black hole, a fast-moving star appears to have had enough. It's fleeing the galaxy.

Moving at more than 1.5 million mph (670 kilometers per second), the speedy star's path has been traced back to the galactic center. Here's what astronomers think happened:

The star was once part of a two-star system. Like all stars in the Milky Way, the pair orbited the center of the galaxy. But they got precariously close to the central black hole, which has a mass of more than 3 million Suns. The gravitational interaction shot the star outward like a rock from a slingshot. The companion was stripped away and lured into a tight orbit around the center of the galaxy.

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

Scientists think the star originated in the galactic center for a number of reasons. First off, it would have taken 80 million years to reach its current location, and the star is older than that. Also, it is composed by a large portion of heavy elements (anything heavier then helium), which are common in the center. Speeds that fast could only come from the massive black hole in the center of the galaxy.

It may be leaving our galaxy, but it isn't headed for anything else. In 80-100 million years, the star will leave our galaxy, and head off into space alone.

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[edit on 2/12/2005 by Amorymeltzer]

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