Question Sheet: Speedy stars


Before reading:

  1. What is a star?
  2. What is the Milky Way — and where is our solar system in relation to it?
  3. What is a black hole?
  4. Do stars have gravity?

During reading:

  1. What does hypervelocity mean?
  2. How fast can hypervelocity stars travel?
  3. These stars have been described as weird. Why is that? (Hint: Consider their

    direction of travel.)

  4. How many of these strange stars may be running away from our galaxy?
  5. Where do stars come from?
  6. What role might black holes play in creating hypervelocity stars?
  7. How might an “intergalactic wedding” also cause hypervelocity stars?

After Reading

  1. Why do astronomers care about speedy stars and how they form?
  2. If you had to spend your career studying Earth, our sun, stars beyond our

    sun, or black holes, which would you choose? Explain your choice.

  3. Do stars — even our sun — move quickly? Why do they appear unmoving in the

    sky? How long do stars live? And do they ever die?


  1. It costs many millions of dollars each year to pay for studies of stars,

    using big (and sometimes orbiting) telescopes. Explain why you think that is —

    or is not — a good use of taxpayer money.

  2. Map the placement of our sun within the Milky Way and where you think these

    weird stars are.


  1. Write a small poem about one or more hypervelocity stars.
  2. The size of a galaxy is enormous. The universe is vastly greater still.

    Think about these distances, about the large number of stars and galaxies

    sprinkled throughout this huge expanse. Now explain how that makes you feel

    about your place in your neighborhood or even the world. Describe any new

    questions it may raise for you.