The fastest star in the Milky Way

(ORDO NEWS) — Astronomers have discovered a star that is at a minimum average distance from the central black hole of the Milky Way, according to The Astrophysical Journal. In addition, they managed to find another record holder – the fastest moving star, whose speed is eight percent of the speed of light.

At the center of the Milky Way is the supermassive black hole Sagittarius A *, which is 26 thousand light-years from Earth. It is surrounded by a hot cloud of gas that emits in the radio frequency range, as well as a small group of faint S-stars that revolve around it in relatively tight orbits. Scientists have previously found several dozen such objects, including S62, which makes one revolution around the central black hole in 9.9 years and was still considered the shortest-period luminary around the central black hole. Now astronomers have managed to find a new record holder, whose orbital period is almost two years less.

Florian Peißker of the Institute of Physics at the University of Cologne and colleagues analyzed data from the SINFONI infrared spectrograph and the NACO instrument on the Very Large Telescope in Chile. Scientists have discovered five new S-class luminaries with masses from 2 to 2.8 times the mass of the Sun, including the star S4711, which turned out to be, on average, the closest to the central black hole known today (that is, it has the smallest average distance to Sagittarius A * while moving in orbit).

Observations have shown that S4711 is an object of spectral type B8 / 9-V with a mass exactly twice that of the Sun. It orbits at 6.7 thousand kilometers per second and orbits Sagittarius A * in about 7.6 years, making it the star with the shortest orbital period known around our central black hole. S4711 moves in an elongated elliptical orbit, approaches Sagittarius A * at a distance of 144 astronomical units.

Astronomers also discovered another record holder – the star S4714, which turned out to be the fastest moving star in the Milky Way discovered by scientists. It revolves around Sagittarius A * at a speed of 24 thousand kilometers per second – which means that it would take it about half a day to make one revolution around the Sun in Earth’s orbit.

From the editor

In the original version of the note, it was said that the star would take one and a half seconds to fly around the Sun in Earth’s orbit. This is a mistake – in fact, this is the time in which the star could complete one revolution around the Earth. In order to complete one revolution around the Sun, it will take about half a day. We apologize to the readers.

The discovery of scientists makes it possible to better understand what processes are taking place in the central regions of our galaxy. The authors of the work hope that in the future they will be able to detect more stars in close orbits around the black hole. Such objects help to test Einstein’s general theory of relativity, which predicts that the orbit of a body moving in the gravitational field of another object is not closed, as in the case of Newtonian gravity, but processes in the plane of the orbit in the direction of motion.

Astronomers also recently discovered the fastest main sequence hypervelocity star known to date, which moves through the galaxy at nearly 1,755 kilometers per second, and a group of stars orbiting very rapidly around the galactic center.

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