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February 26, 2011

Runaway Star Races Through Space

NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer caught a glimpse and photographed a star hurtling through space at at nearly 90,000 kilometers per hour! The star is known as zeta Ophiuchi and it is almost twenty times the mass of our own sun. However, astronomers think that it may have once orbited its own star, an even bigger one, that exploded at the end of its life. This explosion kicked zeta Ophiuchi into its own path at a great speed. It now races through space at such great speeds that it creates an arc of compressed material in front of it, pushing interstellar gas and dust out of its way. Radiation is streaming out of the star and is heating the dust around it, causing it to glow in infrared light. It is already half way through its eight million year lifespan.


Posted by schultka at February 26, 2011 04:23 PM


This is really interesting! I'm curious to learn more about how such runaway stars form.

I did some research and found that they can form from two ways: a star can encounter one or two heavier beings in a massive cluster and then can get booted out. The other way is that it could get a supercharged cosmic "kick" from a supernova explosion. I'm not sure if the details of these two methods are correct but this sounds interesting!

Posted by: aarthi at March 6, 2011 10:02 AM

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