A white dwarf star has been spotted hurtling through the Milky Way at 560,000 miles per hour thanks to a thermonuclear blast from a ‘partial supernova’, study found.
The star, a white dwarf with a relatively low mass for its kind, was first discovered in 2015 and is located about 1,430 light years from Earth, with the study noting that this celestial body is traveling at a speed of about 900,000 kilometers per hour “in the opposite direction of the way the galaxy is rotating”.
“When we found this unusual white dwarf was really low in mass and really moving fast, that really triggered my curiosity into what happened to it in its past,” said lead study author Boris Gänsicke, an astrophysicist at the University of Warwick in England.
According to the media outlet, the star’s traits led researchers to believe that it underwent a “partial supernova” which may have lasted “maybe a couple of hours”, as Gänsicke put it.
“In the old days, researchers would have thought a thermonuclear supernova would destroy a white dwarf entirely, but in the past 10 or 15 years, scientists have found it’s possible that a partial supernova could happen that leaves part of the white dwarf behind, burned and charred,” he remarked. “The explosion isn’t powerful enough to totally disrupt the star.”
Based on the star’s mass and temperature, scientists estimate that this probable partial supernova event took place about 40 million years ago.