Astronomers claim that a red-dwarf star, called “Scholz’s star,” near missed our solar system 70, 000 years ago. Scientists based heir finding on a computer model that had analyzed the star’s past and present trajectory.
According to the model, the star came as close as 0.8 light years (nearly 5 trillion miles) from our sun. Scientists argue that this distance reveals an incredible near-miss of our solar system by astronomical standards. Researchers claim that Scholz’s star’s close encounter probability is 98 percent.
The team that made the discovery also said that the star may have even “brushed” the outer parts of our solar system by passing through the outer regions of the “Oort Cloud.” The Oort cloud is a remote region heavily inhabited by icy planetesimals, which is the place where comets are born.
Scientists analyzed the computer model and reassured us that Scholz’s star is now located in the constellation of Moneceros, at a safe distance from Earth, while racing away from our solar system at incredible speeds.
“The radial velocity measurements were consistent with it running away from the Sun’s vicinity, and we realized it must have had a close flyby in the past,”
said Dr Eric Mamajek, co-author of the finding and researcher at the University of Rochester.
Researchers also compared the dim red dwarf’s close encounter with the current position of Proxima Centauri, a neighboring star located 4.2 light years away.
According to background information, Scholz’s star was 50 times fainter than any star on the night sky during its near-miss, making it invisible to our ancestors. About 70,000 years ago, humans were migration from Africa to Europe and Asia.
However, the star might have looked brighter if its brightness was temporarily boosted by its “flares,” which could make it look thousands of times brighter.
Researchers explained that the flares are the result of the star’s magnetism, which is still very active. Scientists speculate that during those bursts of energy the star might have been visible to our ancestors’ naked eye for minutes or hours at a time.
Astronomers also said that Scholz’s star is tied to another star in a binary system. The second star is a dimmer “brown dwarf.” Brown dwarfs are more massive than gas giants such as Jupiter, but still too small to lit themselves up due to a nuclear reaction within their cores. For this reason, astronomers nickname them “failed stars.”
Scientists published their report on the findings in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.
Image Source: Scitech Daily