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CosmosUp | August 15, 2022

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Orange Dwarf Star may Visit Our Solar System — Will it be Our Nemesis?

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Orange Dwarf Star may Visit Our Solar System — Will it be Our Nemesis?

Far beyond the orbit of Neptune, trillions of comets left over from the formation of the solar system lie in wait in a region known as the Oort cloud. Here they are kept in relatively stable orbits around the sun, posing little threat to Earth save for the occasional icy rock that ventures inwards. But in the blink of a cosmic eye that could all change.

On Dec 18 German researchers estimated that the passage of a falling star near the Solar System could destabilize the balance of the Oort Cloud and trigger an authentic comet shower in Earth. Although it is a very remote possibility, since the closest star to Earth is Proxima Centauri, located about four light years away, the reality is that all the stars in the galaxy are in constant motion; therefore, some event of this kind could happen and bring unpleasant consequences.

A scientist from the Max Planck Institute in Germany says a star could have a closer encounter with Earth 'soon'

A scientist from the Max Planck Institute in Germany says a star could have a closer encounter with Earth ‘soon’

A local orange dwarf star has a 90 percent probability of passing within the orbit of our outer solar system’s Oort Cloud between 240,000 and 470,000 years from now, says the author of a new study detailing the computer-modeled orbits of more than 50,000 nearby stars.

In a paper just accepted for publication in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, Coryn Bailer-Jones, an astrophysicist at Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, and the paper’s sole author, found that of 14 stars coming within 3 light years of Earth, the closest encounter is likely to be HIP 85605, which now lies some 16 light years away in the constellation of Hercules.

Sure, that’s a long way off, but this unwelcome guest could perturb the Oort cloud, flinging dangerous comets towards Earth.

“If there are people around at that time in the future and they look up in the night sky, they wouldn’t particularly notice the star.” Coryn said.

“Calculation of one object suggests it would be slightly brighter than Venus, which is pretty bright, but not as bright as the moon or sun or anything.” But he says such an encounter is ‘inevitable,’ although the chances of a star actually entering the solar system is close to zero. “To truly know how much danger we will be in, though, more data is needed.”, he added.

If the comets (sent by the star) don’t kill us, there is still the threat of radiation from a star turning supernova as it moves through the galaxy which could also end life on Earth. This could kill outright, or destroy the ozone layer so the that damaging UV radiation could wipe out all living things.




  1. Wayne Roberts

    The upper end of the timeline indicated – 470,000 years hence – is about the time that macroscopic life on earth will begin to become unviable as the swelling Sun heats our environment.
    Perhaps this duo will herald the end of our species on this planet – cometary bombardment plus excessive heating of the planet.
    The good news is that we’ll have plenty of time to see problems looming and use our by then formidable technology to relocate all who can/will travel to other planets. Providing we don’t fall victim to some man made or natural catastrophe in the meantime, that is.
    The future is as uncertain as it is exciting.

  2. Jerry M Weikle

    Considering that the current forms of life on Earth are approaching an extinction event, due to anthropogenic extinction of species, a half a million years in the future is conjections about life on Earth as we know it. Humans might be extinct as a species by then and the passing of the Orange Star probably will just be an event in the overall aspect of the Universe.

    Despite the effect of a solar storm of comets reaching Earth Orbit, and destroying whatever life exists, other interesting aspect could occur. First, if enough comets reach the inner solar system, both Mars and Venus could experience comet impacts. The total volumn of all the water on Earth is a sphere of approximately 820 miles, supposedly due to comets during the Late Bombardment, that brought water to the Earth over 3 Billion years ago. If enough comets were to reach the orbit of Venus, it might be in the future that Venus will have oceans that will absorb the Carbon Dioxide and that life would experience a new genesis of evolution. Humans might not be around to see the process occuring.

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