A star orbits the Milky Way’s black hole at a speed of 18 million miles per hour

A star orbits the Milky Way's black hole at a speed of 18 million miles per hour
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A recently discovered star, now identified as S4716, orbits the Milky Way, the black hole at the center of our galaxy, at an incredible speed of 5,000 miles (8,000 km) per second. informed.

The sheer vastness of our universe means that astronomers are always finding something they haven’t seen before. Astronomers made the discovery earlier this week two bus-sized asteroids The moon is heading towards Earth, passing only a quarter of the distance from us.

In addition to asteroids, our galaxy is of particular interest to astronomers looking for signs of other life-supporting planets. At the very center of the Milky Way, however, is a supermassive black hole called Sagittarius A* or Sgr A*, and S4716 orbits this black hole at a furious rate.

What we know about S4716

From the observations made so far, we know that at 5,000 miles per second (8,000 km) or 18 million miles per hour (29 million km) S4716 is the fastest star orbiting Sgr A*. It completes an orbit around a diameter of 14.6 million (23.5 million km). black hole in just four years.

S4716 is part of a dense group of other stars orbiting Sgr A* that astronomers call the S cluster. All the stars in this cluster are moving at high speeds, but their masses and luminosities are different. Another star in this cluster, known as S2, is much more famous and much larger than S4716.

However, S2’s orbit around the black hole takes 16 years, and it is about 11 billion miles (18 billion km) closer than Sgr A*. By comparison, S4716 comes within 9.2 billion miles (150 million km) of the black hole, about 100 times the distance between Earth and the Sun.

The discovery of a star so close to a black hole could change our understanding of the evolution of our galaxy and its fast-moving stars. “The short-period, compact orbit of S4716 is quite puzzling,” said Michael Zajaček, an astrophysicist at Masaryk University. statement. “stars it cannot easily form even near a black hole. S4716, for example, had to move inward, approaching other stars and objects in the S cluster, causing its orbit to shrink significantly.”

How did astronomers find the fastest star?

Although S2 helps us understand more details about Sgr A*, it has its drawbacks. “The S2 behaves like a large person sitting in front of you in the cinema – it blocks your view of what’s important. Therefore, the view of the center of our galaxy is often obscured by S2,“he said Florian Peissker, an astrophysicist at the University of Cologne, who participated in this study, made a statement.

Peissker and his team used the data five telescopes, NIR2 and OSIRIS at the Keck Observatory in Hawaii and SINFONI, NACO and GRAVITY Very Large Telescopes and have spent more than two decades refining their analytical methods to confirm the orbital period of S4716. “It was completely unexpected for a star to be so close and so fast in a stable orbit near a supermassive black hole,” Peissker said.

The study was published The Astrophysical Journal.


Ongoing monitoring of the galactic center and central supermassive black hole on Sgr A* is producing surprising and unexpected findings. This goes hand in hand with the technical evolution of ground and space-based telescopes and instruments, as well as the development of image filtering techniques such as the Lucy-Richardson algorithm. As we continue to follow the members of the S cluster close to Sgr A* on their expected trajectories around the supermassive black hole, we report the discovery of a new stellar source, which we call S4716. The newly discovered star Sgr A* orbits for about 4.0 years and can be detected by NIRC2 (Keck), OSIRIS (Keck), SINFONI (VLT), NACO (VLT) and GRAVITY (VLTI). At a distance of about 100 au periaps, S4716 shows an equivalent distance to Sgr A* as S4711. Since S4711–S4716 share comparable orbital properties, these fast-moving stars undergo a similar dynamical evolution. We will further develop the connection between the recent discovery of a new faint star named S300 and the data presented here. In addition, we observed a mixed stellar event in 2017 with S4716 and another newly identified S star, S148.

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