ASTRONOMERS have been left baffled after they spotted a star travelling at mind-boggling speeds and closer to a black hole than they thought was possible.

Using data from an selection of deep space telescopes, astronomers have found a star whizzing around a black hole, just 2.5 times the distance that is found between the Earth and the moon at almost one million kilometres.

Although that seems like a great distance, in astronomical terms it is merely a hair’s breadth.

The star is also travelling at 6.3 million kilometres per hour, or one per cent the speed of light, meaning it takes just 30 minutes to complete an orbit around the black hole.

It takes 28 days for the moon to complete an orbit around Earth.

The star, which was originally discovered in 1989, is part of a binary star system known as 47 Tuc X9, which had baffled scientists when first discovered, but they are finally revealing some information.

Lead researcher Arash Bahramian from Michigan State University said: “For a long time, it was thought that X9 is made up of a white dwarf pulling matter from a low mass Sun-like star.”

The star, the astronomers say, may have been there for tens of millions of years.


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