Orange dwarf Gliese 710 to get within 1.1 light years of the Solar System 1.5 million years from now

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Here's a link (and another here) on a bit of interesting news based on a recalculation of Gliese 710's radial velocity and direction which has led to the conclusion that it will pass within just 1.1 light years of our solar system 1.5 million years from now. That sounds like a pretty far distance, but it's within the outer reaches of the Oort Cloud which means it might set off one or two thousand / million / who knows number of comets while it does so.

This post from 2008 was also on a similar subject, not involving such a close approach but the time frame is much smaller. As you can see, besides Gliese 710 the closest star to the Solar System in the next while will be Ross 24B, but even Alpha Centauri will get within 3 light years of us which is great since even if we sit here and do nothing the closest solar system to our own is still approaching us at 21.6 kilometres per second. That means that if you were born 30 years ago, Alpha Centauri is now 137 AU closer to us, which is greater than the greatest distance we've ever sent a probe (Voyager 1) at 110 AU, and in a shorter time too.

Also keep in mind that the gravitational effect on something decreases based on the square of the distance, so coming within 1.1 light years results in a gravitational effect 7.3 times stronger than at 3 light years.

Edit: one more interesting note from the comments in one of the articles: does Gliese 710 have its own Oort Cloud?


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