What a ride

I suspect even with a civilization with our level of technology and capacity for building durable shelter that nearly everyone would be dead in a few days should something like this happened. But man, what a ride if you could manage it:

Planets in tight orbits around stars that get ejected from our galaxy may actually themselves be tossed out of the Milky Way at blisteringly fast speeds of up to 30 million miles per hour, or a fraction of the speed of light, a new study finds.

10 thoughts on “What a ride

  1. In fairness, every speed is a fraction of the speed of light, it just is that this particular speed is 1/10th the speed of light, which is… fast.

  2. In fairness, from the planet’s point of view, it’s the galaxy that’s moving away at 30 million miles per hour.

  3. @Linoge, I don’t think I have heard anyone with anything close to scientific credentials use that phrase (or more usually “a significant fraction of the speed of light) unless the speed they are talking about is greater than about 2% of the speed of light. With this common usage of the phrase the speed becomes noteworthy.

    @DJ, The planet is accelerated in the process and hence will “know” that it had it’s velocity increased, not that the galaxy was whisked away from it.

  4. “The planet is accelerated in the process and hence will “know” that it had it’s velocity increased, not that the galaxy was whisked away from it.”

    I made no statement about whether or not either could determine that it had been accelerated. I wrote in the present tense: “… it’s the galaxy that’s moving …”, or, without the contractions, “… it is the galaxy that is moving …” Now that the acceleration is over and done with, they are simply in relative motion, and so neither frame of reference is preferable over the other. Thus, the statement that, from the planet’s point of view, the galaxy is moving away at 30 million miles per hour is perfectly correct.

  5. @DJ, The “What a ride” that I was thinking of was the pinball like ride among the stars and black hole(s) that brought them up to speed and sent them zipping out of the galaxy.

    But, of course, you are correct for the present situation.

  6. Relatively speaking, we can take any point as our “frame of reference” for understanding what is happening. Thus, even if acceleration is occurring, it’s just as valid to view the galaxy as accelerating as it is to view the planet as accelerating.

    As a fun exercise, sometimes I pick my car as my “frame of reference”, and imagine how I’m turning the world–not just the world, but the entire universe–with my special “position change device”. If I imagine it enough, it can be a little mind-blowing.

    Of course, if I were to make any calculations based on my car as the center of the universe, I’m inclined to think that the equations will get very complicated, very quickly. One thing I learned from Calculus, though, is that something rather complicated can become simple very quickly, if you just choose a good frame of reference and coordinate system.

  7. I am the center of the universe. So there.

    Anyway, when Andromeda merges with our Milky Way this sort of thing is going to happen a lot, so we are told. Be ready.

  8. Anyway, when Andromeda merges with our Milky Way this sort of thing is going to happen a lot, so we are told. Be ready.

    What caliber for cosmic slingshot?

    In fairness, from the planet’s point of view, it’s the galaxy that’s moving away at 30 million miles per hour.

    We’d all seem a bit accelerated their frame of reference. At that speed, relativistic effects would be noticeable. For every day they experienced, we’d experience a day and 15 minutes. In ordinary observation, not all that noticeable, but it amounts to an extra decade for every 1000 years. Over geologic time, that’s pretty significant.

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