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Star cluster hurtles through space with tremendous speed

A compact ball of hundreds of thousands of stars has been observed shooting out of galaxy M87 (shown) at roughly 8 million kilometers per hour.

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Guest post by Christopher Crockett

Astronomers have detected the first hypervelocity globular cluster, a compact ball of hundreds of thousands of stars launched into intergalactic space so fast that it’s leaving its host galaxy. The cluster, which is moving at roughly 8 million kilometers per hour, appears to have been shot out of M87, an extraordinarily massive galaxy that sits 53 million light-years away in the direction of the Virgo constellation.

While it’s not clear what exactly could launch an entire star cluster at such immense speed, the researchers speculate that it may have been catapulted by a possible binary supermassive black hole in M87’s core. The observations were posted February 25 on arXiv.org.

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