Science

70,000 years ago, a star visited our Solar System and jostled few objects

70,000 years ago, a star visited our Solar System and jostled few objects

If you happen to be alive 70,000 years ago then you might remember that a dim red dwarf star paid a visit close to Sun at a distance of 0.82 light-years away which is minuscule as per astronomical units. Why this is being studied is a matter that warrants further investigation. According to the study published in Astrophysical Journal Letters, a red dwarf star accompanied with its companion a blue dwarf star not fully formed paid a visit to our solar system perturbing objects such as asteroids to alter their orbit to an open V-shaped hyperbolic orbit. This binary system was named as Scholz’s Star irrespective of the number of stars in the system.

Let’s review this study – Researchers studied the Scholz’s Star which is a stellar binary star system that passed close to our solar system 70,000 years ago. A dim red dwarf star and a dimmer not fully formed brown dwarf star together known as Scholz’s Star was able to drive past the Sun at a distance of 50,600 AU or 0.82 light-years. To put things into perspective, 1AU means the distance between Earth and the Sun.

At a point, it was as close as 0.6 light-years or 3.53 trillion miles away from the Sun which made it to the headlines ever since this study had been published three years ago. It also included that the red dwarf star had a mass of 9% of solar mass while its companion, the brown dwarf had a 6% solar mass. The study was concluded with the assumption that the flyby must have jostled some objects in the Oort Cloud, the outermost ring around our solar system influenced by Sun’s gravitational pull.

Researchers investigated the star further this year and published their papers in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society according to which, the Scholz’s Star actually influence the trajectories of some of the object in the Oort Cloud. Researchers examined 339 solar system objects with hyperbolic orbits which are V-shaped open-end orbits followed by a minority of planets and asteroids, unlike the more common elliptical orbit. A computer simulation was used to calculate the positions in space of the objects from where they originated and they found that some of the hyperbolic objects towards the direction of Gemini Constellation show favorable results.

The red dwarf didn’t influence all the comets, asteroids, and planets at once but the only one near its flyby. Of the total 339 objects examined, 36 were found to be originating from the Gemini Constellation. Further, astronomers found 8 interstellar comets of which some had unknown orbits with candidates such as C/2012 S1 (ISON), C/2008 J4 (McNaught). The researchers denied any potential harm to the Earth due to these jostled comets since they are few in number and that, there are plenty of other objects revolving in our solar system that possesses an immediate threat.

As per the estimates, the Scholz’s Star is presently drifting away from our solar system and it is at a distance of 20 light-years away.

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