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Close-by Star Is On A Collision Track With Our Solar System

According to the recent study, researchers say that there’s a 90 percent chance that a neighboring star will be approaching towards our Solar system in approximately next half million years. This star, known as Hipparcos 85605, is a stellar dwarf and is presently 16 light years away from our solar system, and it could come as near as 0.13 light years away. To look for close encounters of this stellar kind, CorynBailer-Jones of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy demonstrated the past and future tracks of 50,000 stars by using data from the ESA’s Hipparcos satellite, which scanned the sky in the 1990s. He discovered 14 stars that are on their way towards our solar system within 3.26 light years (that’s one parsec) of the us. And four of them will travel within 1.6 light years of the sun.

Image Credit: A Close Encounter Of The Stellar Kind / Digitized Sky Survey, SkyView

Of these 14 stars, the nearest encounter seems to be HIP 85605, which is either a type K star- an orange dwarf- or an M star- a red dwarf- in the constellation Hercules. HIP 85605 has a 90 percent chance of passing between 0.13 and 0.65 light years between 240,000 and 470,000 years from now. After HIP 85605 the next closest will be Gliese 710 (also pictured above), a K7 dwarf that’s nearly 63 light years away at the moment in the constellation Ophiucus. This stellar dwarf has almost 90 percent chance of passing within 0.32 to 1.44 light years in almost 1.3 million years. However HIP 85605 and GL 710 show no straight impact threat, their gravitational forces might, nevertheless, divert comets out of the Oort Cloud in our outer solar system -- directing them travelling inwards in our direction.

Bailer-Jones told New Scientist "I think we can safely predict that comet orbits would indeed be disrupted by the closest encounters," He’ll be following-up with the chance of Earth being hit by a comet directed by a passing star. A greater alarm may have been initiated by gamma Microscopii, he writes, a G6 giant that approached within 1.14 to 4.37 light years (0.35-1.34 pc) about 3.8 million years ago.

So will any of these stars carry along their box of exoplanets with them? Possibly, but they won’t be near enough for us to visit. According to Bailer-Jones, their rapid speed as they fly by the sun would make reaching those planets as tough as approaching to more distant star systems.

He also alerts that few of the stars modeled have “questionable data,” so these estimates could be marginally off. Bailer-Jones told Forbes “This study is limited to stars for which we have accurate distances and velocities; which, in turn, limits us to stars currently within a few tens of [light years] from the Sun,” His calculations display that 42 stars have or will pass by within an expected 6.4 light years (2 pc) of the sun over a time-frame covering 20 million years in our past to 20 million years in the coming future. The study will appear in Astronomy & Astrophysics, and it’s accessible online at arXiv now.    

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