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article image3 million miles an hour, neutron star heading out of galaxy

By Paul Wallis     Nov 29, 2007 in Science
Well, if we were looking for an escape velocity from this big starry pizza, we’ve found one. A neutron star, the core of a star which went super nova, has fired itself so fast that it’s now leaving the galaxy.
The star, RX JO882-4300, has traveled about 20 light years since the super nova, 3700 years ago.
The speed makes it one of the fastest moving objects ever observed. X ray telescope Chandra has been keeping an eye on it for five years. Chandra is one of the post-Hubble observation satellites, and its detail is pretty good by any standards.
According to Space Daily:
“"This star is moving at 3 million miles an hour, but it's so far away that the apparent motion we see in five years is less than the height of the numerals in the date on a penny, seen from the length of a football field," said Frank Winkler of Middlebury College in Vermont. "It's remarkable, and a real testament to the power of Chandra, that such a tiny motion can be measured."”
Yeah, and that tiny distance is 20 light years, five times the distance between here and the nearest star. The Chandra picture above shows the size of the super nova remnant (known as Puppis A in the Chandra and Space Daily text) that fired the neutron star, and how far it’s moved since it was spotted.
This link will give some bigger pics, up to 9.3 MB as a TIFF image.
RX JO882-4300 is one of a class of star called “hypervelocity” stars. When super novae happen, they don’t explode symmetrically. They get "lopsided", according to the scientists. The result is they get “fired”, with the core of the star, a neutron star, and the rest of the star, debris, going in opposite directions.
(Actually, if you want to upgrade from the ol’ 12 gauge, it’s probably worth a shot.)
Anyway, at this velocity, the wheels fall off the mathematics to some extent. The thing isn’t a pulsar, so it’s not spinning much. Exactly how you get that sort of velocity out of a stellar core is also open to some debate:
“"The puzzle about this cosmic cannonball is how nature can make such a powerful cannon," said Winkler. "The high speed might be explained by an unusually energetic explosion, but the models are complicated and hard to apply to real explosions."”
Another puzzle, which is probably baffling other readers than me, is what are the other fastest moving objects?
How about more hypervelocity stars ‘n thhhtuff?
Wherefore unto at, do we gone an’ got more information, well, gosh already?
Sure enough, Space Daily had a perfectly good article about hypervelocity stars from last year, and no link on the current article.
Search Engine Optimized, eh?
Probably have to wind the thing up.
Actually, when I saw the original article link, I thought it was about someone finding a way of escaping those press gangs from Dancing With The Stars.
I thought I should check, in case they came back… Someone will eventually realize I'm not a tree...
More about Hypervelocity stars, Astronomy, Chandra telescope
 

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