Runaway star plows through space

Jan 25, 2011 By Whitney Clavin
The blue star near the center of this image is Zeta Ophiuchi. When seen in visible light it appears as a relatively dim red star surrounded by other dim stars and no dust. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA

(PhysOrg.com) -- A massive star flung away from its former companion is plowing through space dust. The result is a brilliant bow shock, seen here as a yellow arc in a new image from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE.

The star, named Zeta Ophiuchi, is huge, with a mass of about 20 times that of our . In this image, in which infrared light has been translated into visible colors we see with our eyes, the star appears as the blue dot inside the bow shock.

Zeta Ophiuchi once orbited around an even heftier star. But when that star exploded in a , Zeta Ophiuchi shot away like a bullet. It's traveling at a whopping 54,000 miles per hour (or 24 kilometers per second), and heading toward the upper left area of the picture.

As the star tears through space, its powerful winds push gas and dust out of its way and into what is called a bow shock. The material in the bow shock is so compressed that it glows with that WISE can see. The effect is similar to what happens when a boat speeds through water, pushing a wave in front of it.

This bow shock is completely hidden in visible light. Infrared images like this one from WISE are therefore important for shedding new light on the region.

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MrsButterworth
2.9 / 5 (9) Jan 25, 2011
Any religious folks around? Just wondering why god would fling a random star across space. (Please don't say the lord moves in mysterious ways.) Thanks in advance!
Resonance
4.2 / 5 (5) Jan 25, 2011
You're an idiot and have no place posting on a science forum. Why did "god" make hitler to murder millions of innocent people? Do you seriously believe there is a "god" that controls the actions of every particle in the Universe?
You should jump off of a 26 story building and see if God saves you then.. but then again, you were never in control of your destiny so your life is meaningless. GG, noob.
baudrunner
5 / 5 (2) Jan 25, 2011
Religious folks would brand you a heretic for not capitalizing god, MrsButterworth. The lord moves in mysterious ways because he has mojo.
jaeric
5 / 5 (5) Jan 25, 2011
Matters it not whether religious you be. Fascinating the universe is. Much to learn there is.
Quantum_Conundrum
1 / 5 (3) Jan 25, 2011
The star moving at 24km/second isn't even a big deal.

The Sun moves around the galaxy at 220km/s ten times faster than that. The Sun moves 20km/s relative to background stars, which means this star is only moving 4km/s above the AVERAGE for stars relative to the Sun.

How big do they allege a supernova would need to be to accelerate a star by 4km/s.

To cause that acceleration, you would need to convert 1.68E20kg of matter to energy, all in the form of work, and all hitting the target star.

then consider what the radius of a 20Sol star would be, and it must have been in a stable orbit around the other alleged star at a distance greater than 28a.u., or 4.28 billion km.

Then if the ejected star has a radius of a half-billion km,3.3au, the supernova would need to convert 1.23E28kg of matter to energy which can do work, expanding in a shell, and then 100% of the energy which hit the star actually did work.

This is instantaneous conversion of 1% solar mass to kinetic energy.
Quantum_Conundrum
1 / 5 (3) Jan 25, 2011
Every time you shrink the radius of the ejected star by half, you would be multiplying the explosive energy of the suernova required to eject it by a factor of 4, since the cross-sectional area of the star exposed to the energy doing the work would go down by a factor of 4.

So if the star was 1 a.u. in radius the supernova exploded with the force of 1.33E29kg of annihilation, all in the form of "work", or about 1/10th solar mass converted directly to energy as work.

If the star was 0.1a.u. radius, 300,000,000km radius, the supernova exploded with the force of 1.33E31kg of annihilation, or 10 solar masses were converted directly to work in the expanding shell of debris.

It was more likely ejected gravitationally, as any supernova of this size having happened during the history of life on earth would have extinguished said life on earth, and everywhere else in the galaxy too.

Massive star can't be more thana few millions years old even by mainstream theory...
Sanescience
5 / 5 (3) Jan 25, 2011
Clearly this is a weapon in a war between powerful aliens.

So much wasting of mental energy, entropy wins again!

Quantum_Conundrum
1 / 5 (3) Jan 25, 2011
Since most of the energy ina supernova is in the form of gamma rays and neutrinos, it would likely take at least a 20Sol supernova, if the ejected star has a cross sectional radius of 3.3a.u.

If the ejected star has a cross sectional radius of 1a.u then the supernova would need to be 200Sol.

If the ejected star's cross section is any smaller, you quickly exceed mainstream theoretical limits on the mass of a star. i.e.

at 0.1a.u. of cross section for the ejected star, you'd need an exploding star of 20,000 Solar masses, which greatly exceeds the mass of any known or theorized non-SMBH object...
MrsButterworth
2.3 / 5 (3) Jan 25, 2011
Why did "god" make hitler to murder millions of innocent people?

Because god moves in mysterious ways! Duh!
pauljpease
5 / 5 (5) Jan 25, 2011
@quantumconundrum,

Um, I'm pretty sure that the speed of the star is due to it losing its companion. You see, it was orbiting (at high velocity) another star, which blew up, flinging this star away at high speed. Like a sling. I don't think the explosion fired the star like a bullet, which is what your calculations are based on...
neiorah
not rated yet Jan 25, 2011
Unforeseen circumstances befall us all and I am sure it relates to everything in the universe.
xanderjones
not rated yet Jan 25, 2011
Zod...
71STARS
1 / 5 (1) Jan 25, 2011
I was of the opinion that we cannot see "green" with our eyes for Empty Space objects...
Quantum_Conundrum
1 / 5 (3) Jan 25, 2011
@quantumconundrum,

Um, I'm pretty sure that the speed of the star is due to it losing its companion. You see, it was orbiting (at high velocity) another star, which blew up, flinging this star away at high speed. Like a sling. I don't think the explosion fired the star like a bullet, which is what your calculations are based on...


Without doing work proportional to mass, how would it overcome the gravity well and obtain escape velocity of the other star's gravity well at a given distance?

In any case, super massive stars like this are supposedly very young, even by mainstream theory standards, so the alleged supernova would have had to occur very recently.
Scalziand
5 / 5 (5) Jan 25, 2011
@QC,

Think about what happens to the mass distribution of the companion star after the supernova. Much of it would be spread out into nebula. The nebula would have a much weaker gravity well than the original star.
Caliban
5 / 5 (5) Jan 25, 2011
QC,

Consider that the two stars are gravitationally bound to each other, through their two masses.
If one star goes supernova, how much of its mass is suddenly ejected, and how much is that star's gravity reduced thereby?

It's just like paulipease said, and would amount to the same thing as cutting or letting loose the cord holding a revolved object.

ubavontuba
2.3 / 5 (4) Jan 26, 2011
Clearly this is a weapon in a war between powerful aliens.

So much wasting of mental energy, entropy wins again!
And here I thought it was a Federation Starship moving at high warp into a multi-dimensional time portal.

"Warp Nine Mr. Scott!"

"Aye Captain, but She can't take much more. She's coming apart at the seams!"
Nyloc
2.4 / 5 (5) Jan 26, 2011
If we could track this star and other similar objects over time, perhaps the bow wave would help to illuminate the 'missing matter' in space. It may be invisible to our eyes but when agitated by a speeding sun, it would appear visible to infrared.
ubavontuba
3.4 / 5 (8) Jan 26, 2011
If we could track this star and other similar objects over time, perhaps the bow wave would help to illuminate the 'missing matter' in space. It may be invisible to our eyes but when agitated by a speeding sun, it would appear visible to infrared.
That's a thoughtful idea, but the problem is the "missing matter" generally wouldn't interact with ordinary matter in this manner. That is, it's thought to be weakly-interacting.
Robert_Wells
3 / 5 (8) Jan 26, 2011


Quantum_ConDumbBum
1 / 5 (1) Jan 30, 2011
Finally, someone with nothing to say... I must let you know robert, it was very refreshing :)
No insult btw, simply too many people with something to say while saying nothing.
71STARS
1 / 5 (2) Jan 31, 2011
@QC: "super massive stars like this are supposedly very young" is an incorrect statement. Barnard's Star (the Runaway Star) located in our region of the Sun is placed at 10-12 billion years old. Please refrain from generalizations that people then have to correct you on. Keep to the subject. Please. Thank you.
yyz
not rated yet Jan 31, 2011
"@QC: "super massive stars like this are supposedly very young" is an incorrect statement. Barnard's Star (the Runaway Star) located in our region of the Sun is placed at 10-12 billion years old."

@71STARS,

Barnard's Star is an ancient(~10 Gyo) red *dwarf* star ~0.15 times the mass of the sun. QC is correct(!) regarding the lifetime of *supergiant* stars. Zeta Ophiuchi is a blue supergiant star ~20 times as massive as our sun. The star is estimated to be about halfway through its estimated 8 million year lifetime on the main sequence. The article notes that the now missing partner to Zeta Oph was more massive still (and hence had an equally short lifetime).

You're comparison of supergiant stars to dwarf stars is apples and oranges.
Glen_Lincoln
not rated yet Jan 31, 2011
A "whopping" 54K mph? In outter space that's dead slow. Our own star in its orbit about the Milky Way is cruising at an ordinary 250,000 mph. And by the way, our own planet beats that other star's speed by at least ten thousand mph.