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Astronomers Spot One of the Fastest-Moving Star Fragments as It Exits Our Galaxy

Falling meteorite, asteroid, comet in starry sky. Elements of this image furnished by NASA.
Triff/ Shutterstock.com

We know that stars are born from violence and chaos, and supernova deaths can also be just as extreme. We also know that these types of explosions can push them on a fast-paced trajectory through space, which is precisely what’s happening right now with a star fragment.

Scientists from Boston University are studying the fragment, and have noted that it is speeding its way out of the Milky Way galaxy at speeds reaching 2 million miles per hour. The fragment came from a supernova, most likely a white dwarf star, named LP 40-365, that was consuming its partner star in a binary system. The two stars were likely spinning extremely quickly (and extremely close to each other) and, as a result, both were propelled outward once LP 40-365 exploded.

What’s remarkable here isn’t just the remnant’s fast speeds, which are fairly rare; it is also spinning at an incredibly slow rate for this type of shard. It’s taking 8.9 hours to complete a full rotation. 

The star fragment’s composition will also provide scientists with valuable insights. Intact stars have a primary composition of gases, like hydrogen and helium. This fragment, however, survived a partial detonation and is mostly composed of metal. JJ Hermes, Boston University College of Arts & Sciences assistant professor of astronomy, said, “what we’re seeing are the by-products of violent nuclear reactions that happen when a star blows itself up.”

The shrapnel gives scientists a rare opportunity to study a star chunk that survived a stellar explosion. It’ll also help them gain a better understanding of other stars that have had a similar catastrophic event. 

via Engadget

Suzanne Humphries Suzanne Humphries
Suzanne Humphries was a Commerce Editor for Review Geek. She has over seven years of experience across multiple publications researching and testing products, as well as writing and editing news, reviews, and how-to articles covering software, hardware, entertainment, networking, electronics, gaming, apps, security, finance, and small business. Read Full Bio »