What makes hypervelocity stars move so fast?

We take a look at what causes these stars to speed across the universe

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Supernova explosions could be responsible for ejecting stars to hypervelocity speeds out of a galaxy. Image Credit: NASA

Supernova explosions could be responsible for ejecting stars to hypervelocity speeds out of a galaxy. Image Credit: NASA

Asked by Luke Richardson

The exact origins of hypervelocity stars is unknown, but many existing theories suggest interaction with gravitationally strong objects is the cause. It is believed that a strong candidate for the origin of these objects is binary star systems interacting with supermassive black holes in the centre of distant galaxies from ours.

As the binary system falls toward the black hole it is believed that one of the stars will be captured by the black hole and the other will be split from the system, retaining the high velocity gained. Other theories suggest companion stars can be ejected following supernova explosions in binary systems. Many of these theories fit with current observations but further research needs to be done.

Answered by Zoe Baily from the National Space Centre

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