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Astronomers discover the “fastest” known star in the universe
By: Sara Li
Astronomers recently discovered a star that orbits a black hole in record time, making it one of the fastest stars in the known universe. Its name is S4716, orbits close to Saggitarius, a black hole in the center of the Milky Way.
Researchers found that this star orbits the 23.5 million kilometers black hole. And it only takes four years, which is the shortest orbital period for any star. This means it travels at 18 million mph or 5,000 miles per second.
S4716 was discovered by researchers at the University of Cologne and Masaryk University. They used five telescopes to watch the star and combined four to allow even more detailed and accurate observations. The telescopes include NIR2 and OSIRIS in Hawaii and the European Southern Observatory's SINFONI, NACO, and GRAVITY telescopes.
After 20 years of research, they established that this star moves at 8,000 kilometers a second and can go as close as 100 astronomical units to the black hole. This star is nothing short of extraordinary.
As Dr. Florian Peissker, lead author of the new study, says, "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."