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Beyond Earthly Skies

Hypervelocity Planets

8 Aug 2014, 22:00 UTC
Hypervelocity Planets
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At the centre of the Milky Way sits a supermassive black hole (SMBH) with a mass of around 4 million times the mass of the Sun. A close encounter of a binary star system with the SMBH can cause one star to be ejected as a hypervelocity star (HVS) with sufficient velocity to escape the gravitational pull of the Milky Way, while the other star becomes captured into an eccentric orbit around the SMBH. This is the most likely mechanism for the production of HVSs. The existence of HVSs was first theorised in 1988 and the first HVS was discovered in 2005. Several HVSs have been discovered since. Ordinary stars in the galaxy have velocities on the order of ~100 km/s, while HVSs have velocities on the order of ~1000 km/s.A study by Ginsburg, Loeb & Wegner (2012) investigates what happens when a binary star system hosting a planetary system gets disrupted by the SMBH at the centre of the Milky Way. In particular, the study examines the generation of hypervelocity planets (HVPs). The possible outcomes from such an interaction are - a HVS, one or more HVPs, a HVS with one or more bound planets, a star left behind ...

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