Astronomers have discovered an unusual star orbiting a black hole at the center of the Milky Way.

Stars S0-6 are 10 billion years old and bear no resemblance to stars in our galaxy. The Milky Way galaxy has between 100 billion and 400 billion stars. The exact number is unknown because new stars are still forming in some regions of our galaxy. Most of the visible celestial objects come from the Milky Way, but some of them have come to us from other parts of the universe. Astronomers at Japan’s Miyagi Normal University spent nearly a decade studying a single star near the center of the galaxy and concluded that S0-6 definitely did not come from here.

As the name suggests, S0-6 is an S star because it orbits very close to the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way. Astronomers admire her S star because the supermassive black hole’s gravitational turbulence should prevent nearby star formation. This suggests that S stars form somewhere in the universe and move toward the black hole over time. Additionally, these objects are in such extreme conditions that they could be used to retest Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

The new study was published in the Proceedings of the Japan Academy and was led by scientist Shogo Nishiyama. His team observed star S0-6 during his eight years using the Subaru Telescope at the Optical and Infrared Observatory in Hawaii. According to their analysis, S0-6 is actually orbiting the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole known as Sagittarius A*. The black hole orbits 0.04 light-years away, which is just over three times the diameter of our solar system.

As stars age, they retain fewer heavy elements, which helps determine their age. S0-6 is not a young star; analysis of its spectra suggests that it formed about 10 billion years ago, and importantly, it is unique from other stars in the region. have different elemental ratios. It looks like an outer star in the Milky Way. This is most similar to stars in dwarf galaxies that orbit the Milky Way, such as the Small Magellanic Cloud.

Scientists believe that some of the Milky Way’s satellite galaxies are being destroyed, a process that has likely been going on for billions of years. This is not the first extragalactic star, but it is the first to be discovered in the immediate vicinity of Sagittarius A*. S0-6 may have formed in a dwarf galaxy 50,000 or 60,000 light-years away and was eventually swallowed by the Milky Way. It is unknown what process this star went through to reach the center of the galaxy. Further investigation is required to confirm her origins and whether she had companions on her travels.