Astronomers clock star travelling 3,700,000mph

Astronomers have sighted an ultra-fast star making its way across the universe at dizzying speed.

Known as S5-HVS1, the star is travelling at more than 3.7 million miles per hour. It’s believed to have been ejected from the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way.

Scientists estimate this happened around five million years ago – about the time our human ancestors were learning to walk on two feet.

S5-HVS1 was discovered by Sergey Koposov from Carnegie Mellon University as part of the Southern Stellar Stream Spectroscopic Survey (S5).

Located in the constellation of Grus – the Crane – it was found to be moving 10 times faster than most stars in the Milky Way at six million km/h (3.72 million mph).

Douglas Boubert, from the University of Oxford, a co-author on the study, said: ‘The velocity of the discovered star is so high that it will inevitably leave the Galaxy and never return.’

High-velocity stars were discovered two decades ago and since then have fascinated astronomers.

Scientists say S5-HVS1 is unprecedented due to its high speed and close passage to the Earth – only 29,000 light years away.

Using this information, they were able to track its journey back into the centre of the Milky Way where a four million solar mass black hole, known as Sagittarius A

Professor Koposov, lead author of the study, said: ‘This is super exciting as we have long suspected that black holes can eject stars with very high velocities. However, we never before had a clear association of such a fast star with the Galactic Centre.’

‘We think the black hole ejected the star with a speed of thousands of kilometres per second about five million years ago.

‘This ejection happened at the time when humanity’s ancestors were just learning to walk on two feet.’

S5-HVS1 was discovered with the 3.9-metre Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT) near Coonabarabran, New South Wales, Australia, coupled with observations from the European Space Agency’s Gaia satellite that allowed the astronomers to reveal the full speed of the star and its journey.

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