Astronomers at Queen’s University Belfast have discovered an unbound star, US708, that is traveling at 1,200 kilometres per second. This is the fastest speed ever recorded in our galaxy.
The star is not bound by gravity and will eventually leave our galaxy. It is assumed that US708 was originally part of a “double-star” system, which included a massive white dwarf star. Presumably, the white dwarf exploded into a “thermonuclear supernovae,” or “type Ia supernova,” which kicked US708 out of orbit. A Type Ia Supernova occurs when two stars orbit each other “in which one of the stars is a white dwarf while the other can vary from a giant star to an even smaller white dwarf.”
Despite breaking a galactic record, the discovery of “US708 sheds light on the mysterious double-star systems that give rise to thermonuclear explosions. Thermonuclear, or ‘type Ia’, supernovae have long been used to calculate the distances to faraway galaxies – a measurement which helps to determine how the universe is changing and expanding.”
European Southern Observatory fellow, Stephan Geier, who led the study, said: “Several types of stars have been suspected of causing the explosion of a white dwarf as supernova of type Ia.… Read the rest