A team of astronomers have identified what seems to be a rogue astronomical "zombie" object making its way from a cluster of stars.
Astronomers were thrown for a loop when they detected an object moving as fast as 22,000 mph relative to the Hyades star cluster located approximately 153 light years from Earth within the constellation Taurus. The detection proved to be an opportunity to learn about the mysterious star cluster, such as the low count of white dwarf stars (dead/zombie stars), given how approximately 97% of the stars in the Milky Way galaxy will become white dwarfs.
Astronomers only estimate the Hyades star cluster having a few white dwarfs at its core, with the other stars located in the area only being loosely bound, enabling the possibility of them being ejected out of the group. But how would that happen? Two ways: a cloud of gas moving into the area or an interaction with another star cluster. Astronomers have further theorized that the lack of white dwarfs within the Hyades star cluster may be a result of them all being ejected.
Using data from the European Space Agency's Gaia spacecraft, designed to create the most precise 3D space catalog ever made by tracking star locations, the astronomers found Gaia EDR3 560883558756079616, a white dwarf 1.3 times more massive than the sun, and moving at 22,000 mph out of the Hyades cluster. Notably, white dwarf stars are only 0.6 times the size of the sun, making this discovery of Gaia EDR3 560883558756079616 one of the largest researchers have ever detected.
"It is interesting that such a high-mass white dwarf was identified as having been born in the Hyades cluster. The Hyades is not exceptionally rich in stars nor in a particularly dense region of the galaxy; by most accounts, it is a typical moderately populated and evolved cluster," the team wrote in their paper about the discovery.
"The sole factor that makes the cluster stand out is its proximity as the closest cluster to the sun. This enables the detection of older, cooler white dwarfs and the ability to trace back escaped stars with greater precision, allowing us to study the cluster in greater detail than any other," added the researchers
Discoveries such as this will assist astronomers in learning more about the evolution of stars and particularly what happens to them at the end of their lives. For more information, check out this link here.