Nov 24, 2020

Wandering stars pass through our solar system surprisingly often

Posted by in categories: futurism, space

So, stars are a lot more mobile than I expected. 😃 Hopefully, it doesn’t cause too much damage next time it happens, if humans are still here by then.

Every 50,000 years or so, a nomadic star passes near our solar system. Most brush by without incident. But, every once in a while, one comes so close that it gains a prominent place in Earth’s night sky, as well as knocks distant comets loose from their orbits.

The most famous of these stellar interlopers is called Scholz’s Star. This small binary star system was discovered in 2013. Its orbital path indicated that, about 70,000 years ago, it passed through the Oort Cloud, the extended sphere of icy bodies that surrounds the fringes of our solar system. Some astronomers even think Scholz’s Star could have sent some of these objects tumbling into the inner solar system when it passed.

However, Scholz’s Star is relatively small and rapidly moving, which should have minimized its effect on the solar system. But in recent years, scientists have been finding that these kinds of encounters happen far more often than once expected. Scholz’s Star wasn’t the first flyby, and it won’t be the last. In fact, we’re on track for a much more dramatic close encounter in the not-too-distant future.

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