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News Release 728 of 954

January 14, 1997 01:00 PM (EST)

News Release Number: STScI-1997-02

Hubble Finds Intergalactic Stars

An American Astronomical Society Meeting Release

January 14, 1997: The Hubble telescope has found a long-sought population of "stellar outcasts" ? stars tossed out of their home galaxies into the dark emptiness of intergalactic space. This is the first time stars have been found more than 300,000 light-years (three Milky Way diameters) from the nearest big galaxy.

The isolated stars dwell in the Virgo cluster of galaxies, about 60 million light-years from Earth. The results suggest this population of "lone stars" accounts for 10 percent of the Virgo cluster's mass, or 1 trillion Sun-like stars adrift among the 2,500 galaxies in Virgo. This is an illustration of the view of the nighttime sky from the surface of a hypothetical planet orbiting an "outcast" star in the Virgo cluster.

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Credit: Harry Ferguson (STScI), Nial Tanvir (University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom), Ted von Hippel (University of Wisconsin), and NASA