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News Release 140 of 955

December 5, 2011 09:00 AM (EST)

News Release Number: STScI-2011-39

Fastest Rotating Star Found in Neighboring Galaxy

December 5, 2011: An international team of astronomers using the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope have found the fastest spinning star ever discovered. VFTS 102 rotates at a dizzying 1 million miles per hour and is very close to the point at which it would be torn apart due to centrifugal forces. The star lies in a neighboring dwarf galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud, about 160,000 light-years from Earth. Astronomers think that it may have had a violent past and has been ejected from a double star system by its exploding companion. The team will use NASA's Hubble Space Telescope to make precise measurements of the star's proper motion across space.

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Artwork Credit: NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI)

Science Credit: NASA, ESA, P.L. Dufton (Queen's University Belfast), S.E. de Mink (STScI, Hubble Fellow), and D.J. Lennon (ESA and STScI)