Triple-star system passes near Milky Way's central black hole

This illustration shows one possible mechanism for how the star HE 0437-5439 acquired enough energy to be ejected from our Milky Way galaxy.

In this scenario, a triple-star system, consisting of a close binary system and another outer member bound to the group, is orbiting near the galaxy's monster black hole. One star is captured by the black hole and the tightly bound pair gets ejected from the galaxy. As the duo speeds through the galaxy, one member evolves more quickly and consumes the other. The resulting rejuvenated star, massive and very blue, is called a blue straggler.


Illustration Credit: NASA, ESA, and A. Feild (STScI). Science Credit: NASA, ESA, O. Gnedin (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA), and W. Brown (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, Mass., USA)

About the Image

NASA press release
Release date:22 July 2010, 15:00
Size:2400 x 1800 px

About the Object

Name:HE 0437-5439
Type:Milky Way : Star : Grouping : Triple
Milky Way : Galaxy : Component : Central Black Hole
Distance:200000 light years

Image Formats

r.titleLarge JPEG
1.3 MB
r.titleScreensize JPEG
312.2 KB

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