Constraints on the origins of hypervelocity stars: velocity distribution, mergers, and star formation history

Aleksey Generozov, Hagai B. Perets

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In recent years surveys have identified several dozen B stars in the Milky Way halo moving faster than the local escape speed. The origin of most of these hypervelocity stars (HVSs) is still poorly constrained. Here we show that the velocity distribution, and in particular the deficiency in >700 km s-1 HVSs is inconsistent with binary disruptions by the massive black hole (MBH) in the Galactic Centre. This conclusion holds in the full and empty loss-cone regime, and for secular instabilities in eccentric discs. Accounting for multiple close encounters between binaries and the MBH does not qualitatively change the results. Moreover, there is no observed counterpart population in the Galactic Centre that is consistent with the HVSs. The star formation history could be tuned explain the HVS velocity distribution, but this tuning would produce a mismatch with the observed HVS flight times. Frequent stellar collisions of the binary components due to interactions with the MBH do not significantly impact the velocity distribution in the Galactic halo. Such collisions, however, can leave observable remnants in the Galactic Centre, and potentially explain the origins of G2-like dust clouds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4257-4266
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2022


  • Galaxy: centre
  • black hole physics

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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