London: Astronomers from the Queen's University Belfast have discovered fastest unbound star in our galaxy.
The unbound star, named US708, is travelling at 1,200 kms per second - the fastest speed ever recorded for such an object in our galaxy - meaning it is not held back by gravity and will eventually leave the Milky Way.
The discovery of US708 sheds light on the mysterious double-star systems that give rise to thermonuclear explosions.
Thermonuclear or "type Ia" supernovae have long been used to calculate the distances to faraway galaxies - a measurement which helps to determine how the universe is changing and expanding.
"It is very exciting to have contributed to this important discovery. It brings us a step closer to solving the type Ia puzzle," said Rubina Kotak from the astrophysics centre at the Queen's University.
US708 is believed to have once been part of a double-star solar system, which also included a massive white dwarf star.
The white dwarf is thought to have turned into a "thermonuclear supernovae" and exploded, kicking US708 and sending it hurtling across space.
Kotak and Ken Smith made the ground-breaking discovery using data gathered by the Pan-STARRS1 telescope on Mount Haleakala on the Hawaiian island of Maui.
Using a range of data gathered over the last 59 years, the team was able to determine the full 3D motion of the star and measure how quickly it is moving across the plane of the sky.