30 “Homeless” Binary Stars spotted drifting in the Void outside any known Galaxy

But there are probably countless others just in the narrow patch of sky that the researchers were looking at


When two stars love each other (and are sufficiently massive and sufficiently close in space), they might start going steady. Astronomers call these stellar partners binary star systems, because the smitten suns do everything together. They orbit around each other, pool their gases together and sometimes even come back from the dead together.

It’s a beautiful thing — but it’s not always good times. Sometimes, one member of a binary duo can be punished for its partner’s toxic behavior. Take the 30-or-so binary star systems recently detected near a galaxy cluster 62 million light-years from Earth. According to a study published May 2 in The Astrophysical Journal, these lonesome pairs got kicked out of their home galaxies when one member of the partnership suddenly went off the rails, collapsed into a neutron star and created a blast so powerful that it sent both binary partners careening into interstellar space.

“It’s like a guest that’s asked to leave a party with a rowdy friend,” lead study author Xiangyu Jin, of McGill University in Montreal, said in a statement. “The companion star in this situation is dragged out of the galaxy simply because it’s in orbit with the star that went supernova.”

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