Solar system could collapse if star gets too close to Neptune: researchers

JMany changes in the trajectory of a single star could destabilize the solar system, causing it to collapse.

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If a star gets too close to Neptune during a “stellar flyby” and deviates from its axis by 0.1%, it could destabilize the entire solar system as a result, according to a study published by Garett Brown and Hanno. Kidney from the University of Toronto.

Brown and Rein explain their findings in the research paper, “On the Long-Term Stability of the Solar System in the Presence of Weak Perturbations from Stellar Flybys.”

“We find that small disturbances in the orbits of the outer planets are transferred between planets, increasing the likelihood that the inner planetary system will destabilize,” the paper says.

Neptune is the farthest planet from the sun in the solar system, and changes to its orbit could have serious consequences for inner planets, including Earth, according to the research.

It’s also possible that if the hitpoints of Mercury and Jupiter closest to the sun synchronize with each other, Mercury could be pulled out of orbit, exiting the solar system entirely, the researchers wrote. The planet could also find itself on a trajectory to collide with Venus, the sun or Earth.

In the research, nearly 3,000 simulations of a stellar flyby occurring on the path of a random planet around the sun have been conducted, with 26 ending in instability, 20 of which resulting in collisions between Mercury and Venus and one being a collision between Earth and Mars. In the simulations, the changes occur over millions of years.

In remarks to Universe Today, Brown said the chance of a stellar flyby harming the order of the solar system is unlikely to be due to its rarity.

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“We estimated that a critical stellar flyby like this could occur once every 100 billion years in the region where the solar system is currently located,” Brown said.

Arline J. Mercier