ESA's Hipparcos finds rebels with a cause
20 Oct 2004A team of European astronomers has discovered that many stars in the vicinity of the Sun have unusual motions caused by the spiral arms of our galaxy, the Milky Way. According to this research, based on data from ESA's Hipparcos observatory, our stellar neighbourhood is the crossroads of streams of stars coming from several directions. Some of the stars hosting planetary systems could be immigrants from more central regions of the Milky Way.
The Sun and most stars near it follow an orderly, almost circular orbit around the centre of our galaxy, the Milky Way. Using data from ESA's Hipparcos satellite, a team of European astronomers has now discovered several groups of 'rebel' stars that move in peculiar directions, mostly towards the galactic centre or away from it, running like the spokes of a wheel. These rebels account for about 20% of the stars within 1000 light-years of the Sun, itself located about 25 000 light-years away from the centre of the Milky Way.
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