US 708

Last updated
US 708
US 708.jpg
Artist's concept of US 708 (the blue star on the left)
Observation data
Epoch J2000       Equinox J2000
Constellation Ursa Major
Right ascension 09h 33m 20.865s [1]
Declination +44° 17 05.52 [1]
Apparent magnitude  (V)18.8 [1]
Spectral type sdOHe [1]
Radial velocity (Rv)708.0 ± 15.0 [2]  km/s
Proper motion (μ)RA: −7.33 ± 0.58 [2]   mas/yr
Dec.: 2.28 ± 0.55 [2]   mas/yr
Distance 60,300 ± 8,500  ly
(18,500 ± 2,600 [2]   pc)
Details [2]
Surface gravity (log g)5.23 ± 0.12  cgs
Temperature 44561 ± 675  K
Other designations
SDSS J093320.86+441705.4
Database references

US 708 is a hyper-velocity O class subdwarf in Ursa Major in the halo of the Milky Way Galaxy. One of the fastest-moving stars in the galaxy, the star was first surveyed in 1982. [3] [4] [5]



US 708 was first discovered in 1982 by Peter Usher and colleagues of Pennsylvania State University as a faint blue object in the Milky Way halo. Sloan Digital Sky Survey measured the star again in 2005. [6]


In 2015, Stephan Geier of the European Southern Observatory led a team that reported in Science that the velocity of the star was 1,200 km/s (4,300,000 km/h; 2,700,000 mph), the highest ever recorded in the galaxy. [3] [7] [8] The star's high velocity was originally suspected to be caused by the massive black hole at the center of the galaxy. But now it is found out that the star must have crossed the galactic disk about 14 million years ago and thus it did not come from the center of the galaxy; hence the speed now possessed by the star may not be attributed to the black hole. [9] However, closer study suggested it had been one element of a pair of close binary stars. [10]

Its companion had already entered its white dwarf stage when US 708 entered its red giant phase. Their respective orbits changed as its companion took gas from the outer layers of US 708. Then its companion acquired enough mass to go supernova, which triggered US 708 being flung away at its high velocity, not by the black hole at the center of our galaxy. [11] The team behind the new observations suggests that it was orbiting a white dwarf roughly the mass of the Sun with an orbital period of less than 10 minutes. [7] [8]


The star is a high speed rotating, dense helium star which is supposed to be formed by the interaction of a companion star nearby. These stars are composed of helium, which is the remnant of a massive star which had lost its envelope of hydrogen. Geier's team describe the star as the "fastest unbound star in the galaxy" and employed the Echellette Spectrograph and Imager attached to the 10 meter Keck II telescope in Hawaii. [12] Its velocity exceeds the escape velocity of our galaxy. [13]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 "US 708". SIMBAD . Centre de données astronomiques de Strasbourg . Retrieved 28 November 2016.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Brown, Warren R.; Anderson, Jay; Gnedin, Oleg Y.; Bond, Howard E.; Geller, Margaret J.; Kenyon, Scott J. (2015). "Proper Motions and Trajectories for 16 Extreme Runaway and Hypervelocity Stars". The Astrophysical Journal. 804 (1): 49. arXiv: 1502.05069 . Bibcode:2015ApJ...804...49B. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/804/1/49. S2CID   15799814.
  3. 1 2 Stephan Geier; F. Fürst; E. Ziegerer; T. Kupfer; U. Heber; A. Irrgang; B. Wang; Z. Liu; Z. Han; B. Sesar; D. Levitan; R. Kotak; E. Magnier; K. Smith; W. S. Burgett; K. Chambers; H. Flewelling; N. Kaiser; R. Wainscoat; C. Waters (2015-03-06). "The fastest unbound star in our Galaxy ejected by a thermonuclear supernova". Science. Science magazine. 347 (6226): 1126–8. arXiv: 1503.01650 . Bibcode:2015Sci...347.1126G. doi:10.1126/science.1259063. PMID   25745168. S2CID   206561078. Hypervelocity stars (HVSs) travel with velocities so high that they exceed the escape velocity of the Galaxy.
  4. Eric Mack (2015-03-08). "'Shrapnel' Star Sets Milky Way Speed Record". Forbes magazine . Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  5. "Thermonuclear supernova ejects galaxy's fastest star". Astronomy magazine. 2015-03-09. Retrieved 2015-03-11. Scientists using the W. M. Keck Observatory and Pan-STARRS1 telescopes on Hawaii have discovered a star that breaks the galactic speed record, traveling with a velocity of about 2.7 million mph (1,200 km/s). This velocity is so high, the star will escape the gravity of our galaxy. In contrast to the other known unbound stars, the team showed that this compact star was ejected from an extremely tight binary by a thermonuclear supernova explosion.
  6. "US 708: Hypervelocity Star Ejected by Supernova Breaks Galactic Speed Record". Science News. 2015-03-06. Retrieved 2015-03-10. A multinational team of astronomers led by Dr Stephan Geier from the European Southern Observatory in Garching, Germany, has determined that a hypervelocity star known as US 708 is traveling at about 1,200 km per second.
  7. 1 2 "Fastest Star in Our Galaxy Propelled by a Thermonuclear Supernova". Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii . Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  8. 1 2 John Timmer (March 5, 2015). "Fastest star leaving our galaxy was blasted out by a supernova: A double-detonation supernova spits out a hypervelocity hot dwarf". Arstechnica . Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  9. Douglas Quenqua (2015-03-10). "Fastest Star in the Galaxy Got an Unusual Start". New York Times . p. D4. Retrieved 2015-03-10. By measuring the velocity, trajectory and rotation of the star, known as US 708, researchers at the European Southern Observatory determined that it started life as one half of a close binary pair — two stars that closely orbited one other.
  10. "IflScience" . Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  11. "TechTimes" . Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  12. "DNews" . Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  13. "Thermonuclear Supernova Ejects Galaxy's Fastest Star". KeK. Retrieved March 11, 2015.