Researchers from the University of Cologne and Masaryk University in Brno have discovered an extremely fast-moving star (S4716) that orbits Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole in the center of our Milky Way galaxy, in just 4-years. Just how fast is this star? It travels at approximately 18-million mph, which means S4716 comes as close as 92-million miles to the supermassive black hole.
While 92-million miles may sound like a gargantuan distance from the black hole, in reality, it’s equal to around 100-times the distance between our planet and the sun. This discovery discovery may open the doors on the origin and evolution of the orbit of fast-moving stars in the heart of the Milky Way galaxy. Something equally as impressive would be this black hole merging with a neutron star.
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The short-period, compact orbit of S4716 is quite puzzling. Stars cannot form so easily near the black hole. S4716 had to move inwards, for example by approaching other stars and objects in the S cluster, which caused its orbit to shrink significantly,” said Michael Zajaček, Masaryk University in Brno astrophysicist.