Netherland scientists spot high-speeding stars from other galaxies heading towards Milky Way

Lying around 20,000 light-years from us in the constellation of Scorpius (The Scorpion)

A team of researchers at the Leiden University, Netherlands has spotted a bunch of high-speeding stars from other galaxies heading towards the Milky Way. Interestingly, the study was initially aimed to locate high-speeding stars heading out of the Milky Way, but the research team ended up identifying more stars that were travelling in the opposite direction.

During the research, scientists made use of European Space Agency's most detailed map of the galaxy produced so far and spotted these dozen high-speeding stars heading towards the Milky Way. It should be also noted that these high-speeding stars are just potentially a fraction of the number of stars that are on similar headings.

Researchers believe that more studies on these high-speeding stars will help to understand the history of nearby galaxies, and what lies in the farthest corners of deep space.

These stars usually gain huge speed when they lose the gravitational tie of their galaxy. Scientists have named these space bodies unbound stars, and the fastest among them that travels at a speed of more than 700 kilometres per second is known as hypervelocity stars.

The research report published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society reveals that some of these stars might be shooting inward from the galactic disc, while some others could be even intergalactic visitors coming from the large Magellanic clouds.

"Rather than flying away from the galactic centre, most of the high-velocity stars we spotted seem to be racing towards it. These could be stars from another galaxy, zooming right through the Milky Way," said Tomasso Marchetti, a team member.

As per researchers, there are more than 100 billion stars in the Milky Way, most of them arranged in the familiar disc shape. However, scientists speculate that there could be a supermassive black hole at the centre of this dense disc in other galaxies and that could be the result of their high speed.

"Stars can be accelerated to high velocities when they interact with a supermassive black hole. So the presence of these stars might be a sign of such black holes in nearby galaxies," said Elena Maria Rossi, another team member who was a part of this research.

This article was first published on October 7, 2018
Related topics : Milky way