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Runaway Star

Researchers have spotted the fastest known star to have ever escaped the Milky Way, seemingly as a result of another star exploding in a massive thermonuclear blast.

It's not just one star that has launched itself into intergalactic space. The researchers identified two runaway stars that have accelerated to staggering velocities.

As detailed in a yet-to-be-peer-reviewed paper, the researchers found that a star dubbed J1235 screamed through the Milky Way at a blistering 1,053 miles per second, while star J0927 clocked in at 1,420 miles per second on its way out.

In total, the research team led by Harvard astrophysicist Kareem El-Badry identified six new runaway stars in our galaxy after studying data from the European Space Agency's Gaia survey, four of which likely were pushed out as a result of a special type of supernova.

These stars, they say, could allow researchers to find new ways to calculate the birth rates of these stars and discover more runaway stars just like them.

Hypervelocity Drive

The four stars being pushed by explosions are what are known as hypervelocity stars, with researchers suggesting they were accelerated by Type Ia supernovae, which occur in binary star systems where one star is a white dwarf.

In some of these systems, the other star starts aggregating material from its white dwarf star companion, as ScienceAlert explains, which can build up into huge stores of hydrogen gas. At a certain point, this hydrogen gas explodes in a thermonuclear detonation and even triggers a second blast inside the core of the white dwarf.

As a result, the other star in the system gets launched into space at ludicrous speeds, even booting it out of our galaxy.

The researchers suggest that many more runaway stars may exist in the Milky Way that we simply haven't discovered yet. In fact, some of them may be even faster than the ones identified for the study.

More on runaway stars: A Runaway Star Is Escaping a Black Hole at 1.2 Million MPH

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