David Kirkpatrick

March 13, 2010

Dwarf star has 86% chance of crashing our solar system

Filed under: Science — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:33 pm

But we have a little time to make arrangements. The collision is expected in the next 1.5 million years.

From the link:

A new set of star velocity data indicates that Gliese 710 has an 86 percent chance of ploughing into the Solar System within the next 1.5 million years.

And:

Today, Vadim Bobylev at the Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in St Petersburg gives us the answer. He’s combined the Hipparcos data with several new databases and found an additional nine stars that have either had a close encounter with the Sun or are going to.

But he’s also made a spectacular prediction. The original Hipparcos data showed that an orange dwarf star called Gliese 710 is heading our way and will arrive sometime within the next 1.5 million years.

Of course, trajectories are difficult to calculate when the data is poor so nobody has really been sure about what’s going to happen.

What the new data has allowed Bobylev to do is calculate the probability of Gliese 710 smashing into the Solar System. What he’s found is a shock.

He says there is 86 percent chance that Gliese 710 will plough through the Oort Cloud of frozen stuff that extends some 0.5 parsecs into space.

That may sound like a graze but it is likely to have serious consequences. Such an approach would send an almighty shower of comets into the Solar System which will force us to keep our heads down for a while. And a probability of 86 percent is about as close to certainty as this kind of data can get.

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