A supermassive black hole is depicted in this artist's concept, surrounded by a swirling disk of material falling onto it. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

This is the Fastest Star In the Galaxy And Here’s What We Can Learn From It

The star orbits the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. At a certain moment during its orbit, this last star passes 1.9 billion kilometers from Sagittarius A * and that is when it accelerates to its maximum, reaching 8% the speed of light. 

As you are reading this, the Earth is traveling through the solar system, which, in turn, is traveling through the Milky Way. Our Galaxy, in turn, is traveling through the universe. Nothing is stationary.

Our planet rotates on its axis while traveling through space at around 1700 km/h for someone on the equator.

Although this may be quite fast, it’s nothing compared to the movement of the Sun.

From our vantage point, around 25,000 light-years from the center of the Galaxy, where a supermassive black hole resides, the Sun completes one elliptical orbit every 220–250 million years or so, which would place the Sun traveling at around 200–220 km/s along this journey.

However, while this may seem fast, there are even faster things in the universe, and one of them is a star dubbed S4714.

This star is believed to be traveling at a speed close to eight percent of the speed of light, at around 24,000 km/s.

A star in a hurry and squeezars

A group of astrophysicists from the University of Cologne, Germany, has identified various distant stars quite close to the supermassive black hole at the center of our Galaxy, Sagittarius A *, and they say that one of them is the fastest star ever seen.

This discovery not only suggests that there are more stars in eccentric orbits around the Milky Way’s center but also provides the first candidates for a type of star theoretically proposed nearly 20 years ago: the “squeezars.”

The term comes from the English squeeze (squeeze) and stars (stars) and refers to the enormous tidal forces to which they are subjected in the vicinity of a black hole. In other words, stars that are being squeezed.

For years, another star, known as S2 and one of the brightest in the same star cluster, was considered the closest one to the supermassive black hole.

At the moment of its closest approach, the periapsis, its orbit is about 10 billion kilometers from Sagittarius A *, and it is moving at 3% of the speed of light.

But researchers point to S4714 as having set a new space speed record, making it one of the “perfect candidates for observing the gravitational effects and properties of the colossal and invisible object they orbit.”

Several years of observations from the Paranal hill (Chile), where the VLT telescope of the European Southern Observatory is located, have confirmed that at a certain moment during its orbit, this star passes 1.9 billion kilometers from Sagittarius A * and that is when it accelerates to its maximum, reaching 8% the speed of light.

The research describing the superfast star has been published in The Astrophysical Journal.


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Written by Ivan Petricevic

I've been writing passionately about ancient civilizations, history, alien life, and various other subjects for more than eight years. You may have seen me appear on Discovery Channel's What On Earth series, History Channel's Ancient Aliens, and Gaia's Ancient Civilizations among others.

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