Nearly 10 years after it’s discovery, researchers have learned that a compact star named US 708 is moving faster than any other star ever observed in the Milky Way galaxy.
This record-setting hypervelocity star has been calculated to move at an insanely fast 746 miles per second, or 2.7 million miles per hour. That’s so quick that astronomers say it will escape the gravity of our galaxy (in 25 million years). Of course you’ll be dead by then!
“At that speed, you could travel from Earth to the moon in five minutes,” Dr. Eugene Magnier, a researcher at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and one of the astronomers involved in the discovery, said in a written statement.
The insanely-fast star was first found in 2005, Discovery News reported. Then, over the past several years, Magnier and his colleagues used the Keck II and Pan-STARRS1 telescopes in Hawaii to measure the star’s velocity and trajectory.
The observations showed that US 708 which is now a helium star and most likely a red giant in orbit around a massive white dwarf. As the white dwarf stripped US 708 of hydrogen and helium, it exploded in a supernova and sent US 708 flying. (See the footage above if you haven’t already watched it)
“It’s like if you are riding a swing carousel, where you are connected with a chain, and you cut the chain — then you fly away from the carousel,” Dr. Stephan Geier, a postdoctoral researcher at the European Southern Observatory and a co-author of a paper describing the discovery, told. In this case it had deeper consequences of riding the carousel. It explodes. If only we could experience that.
The paper was published online March 6th in the journal Science.