Stars speeding through the Galaxy
Artist's impression of two stars speeding from the centre of our Galaxy, the Milky Way, to its outskirts.
These hypervelocity stars move at several hundred of km/s, much faster than the galactic average.
Their high speeds are the result of a past interaction with the supermassive black hole that sits at the centre of the Milky Way and, with a mass of four million Suns, governs the orbits of stars in its vicinity.
With the help of software that mimics a human brain, a team of scientists have found six hypervelocity stars in the first dataset from ESA’s Gaia satellite, and are looking forward to finding more in the future Gaia data releases.
These stars have travelled great distances through the Galaxy so they provide crucial information about the gravitational field of the Milky Way from the centre to its outskirts.
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