June 14, 2024

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A star orbiting the black hole of the Milky Way at 18 million miles per hour

A star orbiting the black hole of the Milky Way at 18 million miles per hour

A recently discovered star, now known as S4716, is traveling at an astonishing 5,000 miles (8,000 km) per second around the black hole at the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way, Space.com mentioned.

The vast expanse of our universe means astronomers are always finding something they’ve never seen before. Earlier this week, astronomers spotted Two bus-sized asteroids heading toward Earth, which will pass a quarter of what separates us from the Moon.

Aside from asteroids, our galaxy is of particular interest to astronomers looking for signs of other life-supporting planets. Despite this, there is a supermassive black hole in the center of the Milky Way, dubbed Sagittarius A* or Sgr A* and S4716 orbits this black hole at a fierce pace.

What we know about S4716

From observations made so far, we know that at 5,000 miles (8,000 km) per second or 18 million miles (29 million km) per hour, S4716 is the fastest star orbiting Sgr A*. It completes its orbit around 14.6 million km (23.5 million km) in diameter. Black hole In just four years.

S4716 is part of a dense group of other stars also orbiting Sgr A* that astronomers refer to as the S group. All stars in this group move at high speeds but differ in their mass and brightness. Another star in this group, known as S2, is more commonly known and is much larger than S4716.

However, S2’s orbit around the black hole takes 16 years and is closer to 11 billion miles (18 billion km) from Sgr A*. By comparison, S4716 is about 9.2 billion miles (150 million km) close to the black hole, about 100 times the distance between the Earth and the Sun.

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The discovery of a star so close to a black hole could change our understanding of the evolution of our galaxy and its fast-moving stars. Michael Zajek, an astrophysicist at Masaryk University in statement. “stars It cannot easily form near a black hole. S4716 had to move inward, for example by approaching stars and other objects in the S cluster, which caused its orbit to shrink dramatically.”

How did astronomers discover the fastest star?

While S2 helped us understand more details about Sgr A*, it has drawbacks. “S2 behaves like a large person sitting in front of you in the cinema – it blocks your view of what’s important. So S2 often obscures the view to the center of our galaxy,” He said Florian Bisker, an astrophysicist at the University of Cologne, who was involved in this research, said in a statement.

Bisker and his team used data from five telescopes, NIR2 and OSIRIS, at the Keck Observatory in Hawaii, and the very large SINFONI, NACO and GRAVITY telescopes have refined their analytical techniques for more than two decades to confirm the orbital period of S4716. “It was completely unexpected for a star to be in a stable orbit so close and fast so close to a supermassive black hole,” Bisker added.

The search was published in Astrophysical Journal.


Constant monitoring of the galactic center and Sgr A*, the central supermassive black hole, is producing surprising and unexpected results. This goes hand in hand with the technical development of terrestrial and space-based telescopes and instruments, but also with the development of image filtering techniques such as the Lucy Richardson algorithm. As we continue to track members of the S cluster near Sgr A* on their predicted path around the supermassive black hole, we present the discovery of a new stellar source, which we call S4716. The newly discovered star orbits Sgr A* in about 4.0 years and can be detected with NIRC2 (Keck), OSIRIS (Keck), SINFONI (VLT), NACO (VLT), and GRAVITY (VLTI). With an edge distance of about 100 au, S4716 shows an equivalent distance towards Sgr A* as S4711. These fast-moving stars undergo similar dynamic evolution, with S4711 – S4716 sharing similar orbital properties. Furthermore, we will relate the recent discovery of a faint new star called S300 to the data presented here. Additionally, we observed a star-blending event with S4716 and another newly identified S star S148 in 2017.

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