A Star 90 Times the Size of Our Sun is Flying Across Space at 250,000MPH

How's this for a crazy astral event: an absolutely gigantic star about 90 times the size of our sun has been shot out of its birthplace and is currently rocketing across space at 250,000 miles per hour. Hot damn!

First, the size: stars can reach about 100 times the size of our sun before collapsing under their own weight, which makes this one of the biggest stars ever recorded. It's 180 octillion tons, which is a bigger number than your puny brain can comprehend. And it's moving fast.

How fast? Well, it's covering the distance between the Earth and the Moon every hour, a trip that took Apollo three days.

So how'd a star this big get moving so fast? Let's let Bad Astronomy explain:

The two stars orbit each other at high speed, and when one blows up it loses so much mass it can't hold onto the other star. Like an athlete spinning around for the hammer toss and then letting go, the star gets shot away at high speed. The thing is, the cluster itself is too young to have seen such a supernova a million years ago, when the star must have begun its flight. Plus, there's no indication of the type of a mess left by such an explosion.

So the star must have been ejected when it reacted gravitationally to other stars. If you take three stars, say, and let them interact, the least massive one will get flung away. Take a few dozen and you get a beehive of activity, with several stars tossed out, some with very high speed. The thing is, this star has 90 times the Sun's mass! That means the stars left behind are even more massive… and we do see several stars in the cluster with masses as high as 100 – 120 times that of the Sun.

Definitely head on over to Bad Astronomy for the full rundown and more pictures and to be made to feel small and insignificant and full of wonder. [Bad Astronomy via Kottke]