Friday, November 11, 2005

A black hole ate my twin, but it can't eat me...

The trajectory of speeding star HE 0437-5439 is
shown in this artist's illustration – it had
tangled with something very, very massive.
Image source: New Scientist / ESO

Maggie McKee writes in NewScientist:

A young star has been caught in the act of speeding out of the galaxy – seemingly on the run from a giant black hole that had already swallowed its twin.

Astronomers used the UVES spectrograph on the Very Large Telescope in Chile to spot the young runaway, called HE 0437-5439, in the dark outer reaches of the Milky Way.

The star appears to be 30 million years old and about eight times the mass of the Sun. It drew notice in part because it was found in a vast enclave of ancient stars – most of them billions of years old – that surrounds the disc of the galaxy like a bubble.


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