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Star Will 'Die All Alone' After Being 'Evicted' by Black Hole

Launched from Milky Way center, S5-HVS1 is going so fast it won't ever be able to get back to our galaxy
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 15, 2019 11:50 AM CST
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Stock image of a black hole in space.   (Getty/Cappan)

(Newser) – A "serendipitous discovery" has been made, and it's an exciting but bittersweet one. Five million years ago, a star got too close to what Space.com calls the Milky Way's "heart of darkness"—a supermassive black hole named Sagittarius A*— and got hurled away with such force that it's now traveling toward the edges of our galaxy at nearly 4 million miles per hour, 10 times faster than other stars on the move, BGR reports. The site notes that S5-HVS1 has "essentially been evicted." "The velocity of the discovered star is so high that it will inevitably leave the galaxy and never return," says Douglas Boubert, co-author of a paper on the star published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society journal.

The New York Times notes S5-HVS1, currently 29,000 light-years from Earth in the Grus constellation, was first spotted by Carnegie Observatories astronomers using a telescope in Australia; that data was combined with observations from the European Space Agency's Gaia satellite to get a more complete picture of the star's trip and speed. The researchers think S5-HVS1 was once part of a star team and that its partner fell into the black hole, while S5-HVS1 got "slingshotted away" in a "a three-body gravitational dance." Feelings of poignancy are bubbling up at the thought of the star's eventual demise. "It was born in one of the craziest places in the universe, near a supermassive black hole with lots of other nearby star friends," study co-author Alexander Ji says in a release. "But it's going to leave our galaxy and die all alone, out in the middle of nowhere. Quite a fall from grace." (Read more black hole stories.)

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