CAIRO, Oct. 7 (SEE) – A new study published recently in the ‘Journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society’ revealed that 13 new hypervelocity stars that cannot be traced back to any part of our galaxy, trying to break out of the Milky Way.
Astronomers at Leiden University in the Netherlands explained that “Rather than flying away from the Galactic center, most of the high velocity stars spotted seem to be racing towards it”. Study co-author Tommaso Marchetti, a researcher at Leiden Observatory, said in a statement that “These could be stars from another galaxy, zooming right through the Milky Way.”
According to ‘Livescience.com’, Marchetti and his colleagues identified these potential interstellar interlopers while poring over position and velocity data for more than 7 million Milky Way stars, provided earlier this year by the European Space Agency’s Gaia satellite. While scanning the skies specifically for the galaxy’s fastest stars, the researchers found 20 previously undiscovered stars that could be traveling untethered from the galaxy’s gravity.
Seven of these stars appear to be “hyper-runaways,” the team wrote, apparently originating from the Milky Way’s galactic disc and speeding outward toward intergalactic space. The remaining 13 stars seem to be moving on a trajectory that makes it unlikely they ever intersected with the galaxy’s massive disc at all. More likely, the researchers wrote, these alien stars originated from a nearby galaxy such as the Large Magellanic Cloud (a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way, roughly one-hundredth the size of ours) and somehow got punted into our corner of the universe long ago.
Both groups of stars represent some of the fastest-moving stars ever detected in our galaxy, moving at several hundreds of millions of miles an hour.