When stars and their orbiting plants wander too close to the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, their encounter with the black hole's gravitational force can either capture them or eject them from the galaxy, like a slingshot, at millions of miles per hour.
Although their origin remains a mystery and although they are invisible, black holes found at galaxy centers make their presence known through the effects they have on their celestial surroundings. The Milky Way's black hole, a monster with a mass four million times that of the Sun, feeds on some of its neighbors and thrusts others out into the intergalactic void.
It's the expelled objects that "become hypervelocity planets and stars," say Ginsburg. "What we learn from these high-speed travelers has significance for our understanding of planetary formation and evolution near the central black hole."
Ginsburg, along with his doctoral adviser Professor Gary Wegner, and Harvard Professor Abraham Loeb are publishing a paper in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. It describes how the team constructed computer simulations of these hypervelocity bodies as a means to understanding the dynamics involved. "The paper is a 'call to arms' for other astronomers to join the search," Ginsburg announces.
Born in Israel, Ginsburg came to the United States as a child and grew up as a Midwesterner. After high school in Lawrence, Kan., graduating from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and studies at Harvard, Ginsburg came to Dartmouth almost five years ago.
For the origin of hypervelocity bodies, Ginsburg and his colleagues point to the close interaction of a binary star system—two stars orbiting a common center—with a massive black hole. The likely scenario is the black hole draws one of the pair into its gravitational well while simultaneously ejecting the other at 1.5 million miles per hour. More than 20 of these hypervelocity stars have been identified in the Milky Way.
"You can also have a lone hypervelocity planet, peeled away from its star and ejected from the black hole. The same mechanism that produces a hypervelocity star produces a hypervelocity planet," Ginsburg explains. "But because it is so small and traveling up to 30 million miles per hour, it cannot be seen. That doesn't mean they won't eventually be found, but currently it is beyond the limitations of our technology."
Ginsburg contends, however, that you could see a hypervelocity star ejected with planets still in tow. In this case, you might be able to see the planets as they cross in front of the star like an eclipse, appearing as a dip in its light curve. While the paper discusses the lone hypervelocity planets, it also draws attention to the planets rotating around the hypervelocity stars.
"That is something that we can detect now," Ginsburg says, "which I think makes it very interesting. … As of yet nobody has looked for these planets transiting hypervelocity stars. We are telling people in this paper that you should look for these."
Joseph Blumberg | Source: EurekAlert!
Further information: www.dartmouth.edu
Further Reports about: binary star system > black hole > celestial surroundings > computer simulation > computer simulations > high-speed travelers > hypervelocity bodies > hypervelocity stars > massive black hole > Milky Way > Milky Way's black hole > Universität Harvard
More articles from Physics and Astronomy:
Three-dimensional view helps laser in building new molecules
06.12.2013 | Max-Planck-Institut für Quantenoptik
NASA Goddard Planetary Instruments Score a Hat Trick
06.12.2013 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
International team of scientists develops new feedback method for optimizing the laser pulse shapes used in the control of chemical reactions
In many ways, traditional chemical synthesis is similar to cooking. To alter the final product, you can change the ingredients or their ratio, change the method of mixing ingredients, or change the temperature or pressure of the environment of the ingredients.
Like an accomplished chef, chemists have become very skilled ...
A genetic defect protects mice from infection with influenza viruses
A new study published in the scientific journal PLOS Pathogens points out that mice lacking a protein called Tmprss2 are no longer affected by certain flu viruses.
The discovery was made by researchers from the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig in collaboration with colleagues from Göttingen and ...
The Light: Global study gets underway with online user survey
Light has a fundamental impact on our sense of well-being and performance. In cooperation with Zumtobel, a supplier of lighting solutions, Fraunhofer IAO has launched a global user survey of lighting quality in offices. The objective is to identify the best lighting conditions for a variety of spaces and lighting ...
Quantum entanglement, a perplexing phenomenon of quantum mechanics that Albert Einstein once referred to as “spooky action at a distance,” could be even spookier than Einstein perceived.
Physicists at the University of Washington and Stony Brook University in New York believe the phenomenon might be intrinsically linked with wormholes, hypothetical features of space-time that in popular science fiction can provide a much-faster-than-light shortcut from one part of the universe to another.
But here’s the catch: One couldn’t actually ...
A star is formed when a large cloud of gas and dust condenses and eventually becomes so dense that it collapses into a ball of gas, where the pressure heats the matter, creating a glowing gas ball – a star is born.
New research from the Niels Bohr Institute, among others, shows that a young, newly formed star in the Milky Way had such an explosive growth, that it was initially about 100 times brighter than it is now. The results are published in the scientific journal, Astrophysical Journal Letters.
The young ...
06.12.2013 | Materials Sciences
06.12.2013 | Life Sciences
06.12.2013 | Life Sciences
05.12.2013 | Event News
04.12.2013 | Event News
12.11.2013 | Event News