Sunday, 6 September 2009

The Hyper Velocity Star Project

The stars

Normally stars have velocities of around 100 km/s. These stars are in our galaxy's gravitational control and, therefore, are in a nice orbit around its center. However, Hyper Velocity Stars (HVSs) have velocities of over 1000 km/s. These stars are so fast that the gravitational pull of our galaxy is overcome. They reach the escape velocity and hurtle out of the galaxy. There are a few theories about what makes them achieve this velocity. They could be the result of a supernova as is believed to be the case of HVS #3 [see this article here] that came from the Large Magellanic Cloud. They could be the result of a binary star system passing too close to the gravitational well of the super massive black hole at the center of our galaxy. One of the stars of the system gets caught by the huge gravity well and the other one is thrown free at very high speed achieving escape velocity. There are only 16 confirmed Hyper-Velocity Stars known. Currently, it is thought that there are only 1000 or so associated with our galaxy. There are around a 100 billion stars in the Milky Way. All the known HVSs are blue because they looked only at the blue stars on the SDSS path, but it is theorized that there must be older HVSs.

The project

What we want to do is to find more of these stars, even if it's just one. The discovery of even one more of these stars will be a huge accomplishment. With the help of many people, we could have a good chance of finding one or more than one. We have a list of possible HVSs too. Most of the HVSs found until now have been found by Dr. Warren R. Brown from the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and Harvard University.

List of confirmed Hyper-Velocity Stars

HVS#1 588010358530507060
HVS#2 588013383268565133
HVS#3* *HE0437-54393 Out of the SDSS path, possibly from the Large Magellanic Cloud.
HVS#4 588017979949842518
HVS#5 587738068348960770
HVS#6 587732771585458263
HVS#7 588848901520359456
HVS#8 587741821063790648
HVS#9 588848898828140657
HVS#10 587742775095918754
HVS#11 587728949047460025
HVS#12 587726033851515031
HVS#13 588848899905290419
HVS#14 587732577236484229
HVS#15 587724650864771241
HVS#16 587742954934698122

Team members in no particular order: Mukund Vedapudi, Stellar190, Jules, Dave, Curtis Garrett, Thomas J, Jamartins, Gargleblaster and Lovethetropics. Alice, BlackProjects, Oswego and Half65 have joined us and now we are 13 teammates. YAY!!!
Our fairy godmothers are Alice for all the help she has provided and Waveney for giving us a place to get this project going (well I guess he is our fairy godfather) :)

You can email us at


  1. Excellent,what we need to take is a star ship ride.Nice work.

  2. Very cool blog! Looking forward to continuing to work with all of you!

  3. Thank you so much Jordan!! It will be a privilege to have you working with us.

  4. You all just continue to impress me! :-) What a beautiful and fascinating blog!