The thought of traveling to a distant star is daunting enough, let alone the prospect of facing millions of years of flight time to reach the nearest galaxy. Remarkably, the discovery of galaxy-escaping hypervelocity stars may provide a solution.
Scientists have seen hypervelocity stars before, but this is the first time they've ever observed an entire star cluster thrown from its host galaxy. Named HVGC-1, it's traveling at a rate of 2 million miles per hour — and its ultimate fate is to drift through the cosmic void for all time.
Every once in a while, the Milky Way's supermassive black hole flings a wayward star into intergalactic space at speeds reaching 2 million miles per hour. But astronomers have now discovered a surprising new class of "hypervelocity stars" that can escape the galaxy — and they don't need the galactic core to do it.