The galactic potential and the asymmetric distribution of hypervelocity stars

Hagai B. Perets, Xufen Wu, Hongsheng Zhao, Benoit Famaey, Gianfranco Gentile, Tal Alexander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


In recent years several hypervelocity stars (HVSs) have been observed in the halo of our Galaxy. Such HVSs have possibly been ejected from the Galactic center and then propagated in the Galactic potential up to their current position. The recent survey for candidate HVSs show an asymmetry in the kinematics of candidate HVSs (position and velocity vectors), where more outgoing stars than ingoing stars (i.e., positive Galactocentric velocities versus negative ones) are observed. We show that such kinematic asymmetry, which is likely due to the finite lifetime of the stars and Galactic potential structure, could be used in a novel method to probe and constrain the Galactic potential, identify the stellar type of the stars in the survey and estimate the number of HVSs. Kinematics-independent identification of the stellar types of the stars in such surveys (e.g., spectroscopic identification) could further improve these results. We find that the observed asymmetry between ingoing and outgoing stars favors specific Galactic potential models. It also implies a lower limit of 54 8 main-sequence HVSs in the survey sample (≳648 96 in the Galaxy), assuming that all of the MS stars in the survey originate from the GC. The other stars in the survey are likely to be hot blue horizontal branch stars born in the halo rather than stars ejected from the GC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2096-2101
Number of pages6
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009


  • Black hole physics
  • Galaxies: nuclei
  • Stars: kinematics


Dive into the research topics of 'The galactic potential and the asymmetric distribution of hypervelocity stars'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this