Ancient Star Seen Zooming Through Space at 600 Kilometers Per Second : ScienceAlert | Space

Most of the stars in the Milky Way tread sedate and orderly orbital measures around the galactic center, but that’s not the case for everything. Every now and again a maverick is caught breaking ranks, whizzing along at speeds that will eventually see it punted clean out into intergalactic space.

These “hypervelocity” stars are extremely rare, but we’ve just spotted a particularly special example. A star named CWISE J124909+362116.0 (J1249+36 for short) not only exceeds the galactic escape velocity at around 600 kilometers (373 miles) per second, it’s a very rare type of tiny, ancient, main sequence star called an L subdwarf, which happens to also be one of the oldest in the Milky Way.

First spotted by citizen scientists combing through telescope data for signs of the mysterious Planet Nine, J1249+36 is one of just a handful of hypervelocity stars identified in the Milky Way – and although far from the fastest we’ve seen, it represents something of a challenge to astronomers; namely, how did it get so breathtakingly fast?

The discovery was announced at the 244th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society, with its paper recently submitted to The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

There are a number of possible explanations for the star’s velocity. The researchers explored three of them.

Three possible explanations for the high-speed star. (Burgasser et al.)

The first is…


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