Show Details

Fastest Spinning Star

December 20, 2011

A powerful telescope has detected the fastest rotating star yet.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

A record-breaking star…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

A giant telescope in Chile has detected the fastest spinning star yet known. It’s a hot blue giant called VFTS 102, located 160,000 light years from earth. Research fellow Selma de Mink of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore explains.

SELMA DE MINK (Space telescope Science Institute in Baltimore):

It’s rotating at 600 km per second, that’s over 1 million miles an hour. If you would take a plane and fly around the earth at that speed you’d be around earth in 60 seconds.

HIRSHON:

In contrast, our own sun leisurely rotates at less than 5000 miles per hour. De Mink says because VFTS 102 is moving so fast, it’s almost ripped apart by its own rotation. She and her colleagues don’t know for sure why the star is in such a hurry. But they think it’s probably because it was once part of a binary star system, and the gas spilling from its expanding companion star may have caused it to speed up. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.