A Close Stellar Encounter

Just when we thought we were safe after the 2012 Doomsday comes word that our solar system may be visited by a star. The good news is that it will not be anytime soon.

Coryn Bailer-Jones, a German astrophysicist, calculated possible paths for 50,000 stars in the Milky Way. The star HIP 85605, now  16 light years away in the constellation of Hercules. is heading towards our solar system and may pass through the Oort Cloud sometime between 240 and 470 thousand years from now. The Oort Cloud is a spherical band of what is to believed to be small icy objects that surrounds our solar system. Small is a relative term here. Even a small object perturbed from its orbit could plunge into the inner solar system to cause havoc on Earth. The passing of even a small star through the Oort Cloud could generate a storm of comets.

The paper can be read here.

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