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Astronomers discover fastest star in known universe

By: Annie Huang

On Thursday July 7th, astronomers discovered one of the fastest stars known in the universe. It can orbit a black hole in record time.

The star is called S4716, which orbits close to the Sagittarius: a black hole at the center of our universe. Researchers have found that the star orbits the black hole in just four years, following a path that is 23.5 million kilometers across in just four years.

This means that the star travels at super-fast speeds of around 18 million mph (29 million kph), or nearly 5,000 miles every second.

The S4716 was discovered by researchers at the University of Cologne and Masaryk University. A total of five telescopes were needed and used to observe the star, four of the five being combined into one large telescope to allow even more accurate and detailed observations. The telescopes included NIR2 and OSIRIS in Hawaii, and the European Southern Observatory’s SINFONI, NACO, and GRAVITY telescopes.

The S4716 is part of a densely packed group of stars called the S-star cluster or Sagittarius A cluster which contains around 100 fast-moving stars.

Scientists found that the S4716 comes as close as 100 astronomical units (AU) to the black hole. One AU is about 149,57,870 kilometers, which is considered to be a small distance in astronomical standards.

Dr Florian Peissker, lead author of the new study said, “For a star to be in a stable orbit so close and fast in the vicinity of a supermassive black hole was completely unexpected and marks the limit that can be observed with traditional telescopes."


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