Where do hypervelocity stars come from?

Where do hypervelocity stars come from?

TITLE: Supernovae in the Central Parsec: A Mechanism for Producing Spatially Anisotropic Hypervelocity StarsAUTHORS: Kastytis Zubovas, Graham A. Wynn, Alessia GualandrisAUTHORS’ INSTITUTION: Theoretical Astrophysics Group, University of Leicester Hypervelocity Stars In 2005, Brown et al. discovered a star with a radial velocity of ~700 km/s, which is more than 3 times the Solar velocity! This star is moving so quickly that its velocity is high enough to escape the Milky Way. The existence of such stars, deemed hypervelocity stars (HVSs), was predicted almost 20 years earlier by Hills (1988). The so-called Hills mechanism ejects stars at high speeds from the center of the Galaxy after a binary stellar system gravitationally interacts with the supermassive black hole at the center of the Galaxy. In such a three-body interaction, one star can be ejected at very high speeds while the other remains in the central region of the Galaxy on a highly eccentric orbit. A number of highly eccentric short-period stars are observed in the Galactic center, which suggests associated HVSs may exist. Since the initial discovery of an HVS in 2005, many more have been discovered (see this astrobite). A small warning: the exact definition of HVSs can vary throughout the literature. In this post, stars traveling away from the Galactic center with velocities high enough to have become unbound from the central black hole are referred to as HVSs.While it is very likely that the Hills Mechanism does create HVSs, it is unclear whether all HVSs are created via this method. Curious if there is a supplemental method to produce HVSs, the authors of today’s paper examine the production...

Astronomical methods for the year 1 trillion

Update: you can read Avi Loeb and Freeman Dyson’s discussion of this issue in our latest post.Imagine a civilization in our galaxy a trillion years in the future. Astronomers in this society may not know of a universe beyond their own galaxy. At approximately the year 100 billion, all galaxies outside the Local Group of gravitationally bound galaxies will have sped out beyond the event horizon of the observable universe and the Local Group will have long since conglomerated into a single galaxy (“Milkomeda”). The Sun will have died out long ago, but the lowest mass stars in the present-day Milky way (0.1~1 solar masses) may still be living.What’s more, the accelerating expansion of the universe predicted by the standard ΛCDM cosmology has redshifted the photons of the cosmic microwave background beyond the event horizon of the entire future universe, so future BOOMERANG or WMAP experiments will not work. Clearly, these future observers could not use the same tools we have to understand the origins of the universe. Fortunately, Harvard Professor Avi Loeb has a very interesting short paper on the arXiv today that speculates on the tools astronomers living a trillion years in the future could use to infer the standard model of cosmology we have derived from present-day observations of the universe.Loeb suggests that these future observers look for the precious few stars that have had a velocity sufficient to escape from Milkomeda (hypervelocity stars, HVSs). HVSs can be ejected from a galaxy by gravitational interactions with the supermassive black hole at the galaxy’s nucleus. After about two billion years of travel, Loeb estimates, the acceleration of...