Thursday, February 10, 2005

Escaping Star

MelbournePhilosopher is a story about a star with three times the mass of our own Sun which has been ejected from our own galaxy.

For those who need a quick refresher, our Solar System is the 9-11 planets that orbit the Sun, the attendant moons, and anything within those rough geographical boundaries.

There are many other solar systems, as well as objects which are not part of a particular locality. There is a larger structure, a "galaxy" which also behaves as a system. It is roughly symmetrical, and is wide and thin. The constituents of the system are galaxies and free objects, which are structured around a large central mass, presumed to be a black hole.

There are also other galaxies, but it seems like galaxies do not form part of an organised larger structure. The collection of everything is referred to as the universe.

The story refers to an intergalactic traveller - a burning mass of heavy elements emitting radiation as fierce physical processes take place in its core. The physics of how this happened aren't made clear, but it has something to do with passing near the galactic core. Its paired star fell into the black hole, and presumably in so doing gave it an acceleration along a particular vector, allowing it to "steal" some of its momentum as it passed near the black hole. The star was able to escape the pull of not only the black hole (being beyond the event horizon) but the entire galaxy.

I thought the idea of a lone star flying through the vast night of space was very romantic and appealing. I wonder where it will go, and who else might see it along the way.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

The universe is a strange place, stranger than the dullards who dream up "sci-fi" TV shows and movies could imagine. There are lone black holes drifting around too. Astronomers found one when it passed in front of another star and produced the predicted distortion of light, which looked a bit like a snow flake.

There would be no planets around the ejected star because the gravitational tides close to the Milky Way's monster black hole would have ripped them away, as it did the companion star.


2/16/2005 07:33:00 PM  

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