The universe is filled with rogue stars, and one is headed towards our solar system. Or so it appears.
The intergalactic star, known as HIP 85605, is one of two stars that make up a Hercules constellation some 16 light years away from Earth. A recent research paper from renowned Dr. Coryn Bailer-Jones of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany shows the rogue star is on a collision course with our solar system.
However, there really is no cause for concern, as the star would pass by the Solar System with little to no harm whatsoever.
Thankfully, according to Dr. Bailer-Jones calculations, the star will pass by the Solar System at a distance of 0.04 parsecs, which is around 8,000 times the distance between the Earth and the Sun. The passage of HIP 85605 is said to have no effect upon Earth or any planet within the orbit of the Sun. The most important factor within the doctor’s paper, however, was the calculation that none of this would happen for another 240,000 to 470,000 years from now.
Speaking with Universe Today, Dr. Bailer-Jones said, “Even though the galaxy contains very many stars, the spaces between them are huge. So even over the (long) life of our galaxy so far, the probability of any two stars have actually collided — as opposed to just coming close — is extremely small.”
Within the world of astronomy, the rogue star passing that close to our solar system still counts as a near-miss. Our universe is 46 billion light years in either direction, so the distance between our planet and that of the passing star is quite tiny when compared against the overall spectrum of the universe.
Dr. Bailer-Jones appears to be more concerned with what will happen to the Oort Cloud – a massive cloud of icy planetesimals surrounding the solar system – should HIP 85605 come too close. Given the rogue star’s current path, the trail would lead it directly through the Oort cloud, shifting it and causing a disruption. The planetesimals making up the Oort Cloud would be scattered into space, while some may be thrown in the direction of Earth.
Those alive right now have nothing to worry about, though. (Thankfully.) The study created by Dr. Bailer-Jones should prove useful when the time for the rogue star comes closer, and humanity will be prepared for any possibilities upon this passing by then.