Alien Star Narrowly Missed Our Solar System 70,000 Years Ago

Wednesday, 18 February 2015 - 2:32PM
Astrophysics
Astronomy
Solar System
Wednesday, 18 February 2015 - 2:32PM
Alien Star Narrowly Missed Our Solar System 70,000 Years Ago

The closest star to our solar system, Proxima Centauri, is 4.24 light years from our Sun. Scientists have just discovered that 70,000 years ago, an alien star came five times closer than that, and narrowly missed our Sun by less than a lightyear. 

 

The red dwarf star, nicknamed Scholz's star in the scientific community, passed within .8 light years of the Sun through the Oort Cloud, a spherical cloud filled with trillions of comets surrounding the Sun. An alien star is only thought to pass through the Oort Cloud every 100,000 years. The authors of the study are calling it "the closest known flyby of a star to the solar system."

 

Oort

[Credit: NASA]

 

The star was accompanied by a brown dwarf, a celestial object that doesn't have enough mass to instigate the fusion reactions required to become a star. Although the rendezvous would have had some effect on the surrounding bodies, as a result of the brevity of the encounter and the binary system's small size, lead author Dr. Eric Mamajek believes that these effects were insignificant.

 

"There are trillions of comets in the Oort cloud and likely some of them were perturbed by this object," he told BBC News. "But so far it seems unlikely that this star actually triggered a significant 'comet shower.'"

Science
Space
Astrophysics
Astronomy
Solar System