Humanity has less than a couple of million years to get its act sorted out and get off the planet.
According to star gazing boffins, in a couple of million years an Orange dwarf star is going to hit the outer rim of our solar system and send shed loads of comets spinning towards earth.
The warning follows a firming up of data published in 1997 in something called the Hipparcos Catalogue. This gives detailed position and velocity measurements of some 100,000 stars in our neighbourhood, gathered by the European Space Agency’s Hipparcos spacecraft.
The data reveals that 156 stars are close enough to create a close encounter every 2 million years or so.
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 nine stars that have either had a close encounter with the Sun or are going to.
He thinks that an orange dwarf star called Gliese 710 is heading our way and will arrive sometime within the next 1.5 million years.
Bobylev said that there is an 86 percent chance that Gliese 710 will plough through the Oort Cloud of frozen stuff that extends some 0.5 parsecs into space.
This would send an almighty shower of comets into the Solar System. In galatic terms 86 percent is about as close to certainty as this kind of data can get.
He said that the chances of Gliese 710 penetrating further into the Solar System, inside the Kuiper Belt, are much smaller, just one in a 1000.
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