Friday, March 12, 2010

The Solar System in 1.5 Million Years

Gliese 710 and the solar system that Earth resides, is on a collision course and the solar system might not be the same ol'e neighborhood in 1.5 Million years.

The Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in St. Petersburg, Russia, with Vadim Bobylev, who has been studying star charts, has found that 9 or more stars have already "swung past the sun or will do so in the future".

Imagine both star systems with Oort Clouds that interact with one another.

He has analyzed data on Gliese 710, using the Hipparcos Catalogue and datasets, and is indicating that Gliese 710 and the solar system will collide in approximately 1.5 million years.

He is indicating there is a 86 percent chance of Gliese 710 coming close enough to the solar system to disrupt the Oort Clound. The star Gliese 710, estimates that the closest approach will happen in 1,360,000 years when the star will approach within 0.337 +- 0.177 pc (1.1 ly) of the Sun.

Since the Oort Cloud within a vast region of space, stretching nearly 3 light years outward, the entry of Gliese 710 at 1.1 light year distance will gravitation disrupt the comets and asteroids of the Oort Cloud. It might even have gravitational effects on Sol B, the pausible 15 Jupiter mass object in the region that is approximately (32,000 x 92,000,000) miles away. Depending upon the orbits and disruptions of the comets, their course can be altered to enter the solar system or exit the solar system. Even so, with long-peroid comets from the Inner Oort Cloud can take thousands of years to reach the inner solar system.

This does raise several questions:

1. Does Gleise 710 have a analogous Oort Cloud, Kepler Belt or even Asteroid Belt?

2. What does this actually mean for life or even human life?

3. What if the comets hit Mars or venus?

First, it could be pausible that Gleise 710 does have comets and asteroids that orbit around it. If this proves to be true, then there should be an exchange of comet material between the two star systems. Even at 1.1 light year distance, it will be a fraction of the distance to the nearest star system, Alpha and Beta Centauri at 4.6 light years and with the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri at 4.2 light years.

What does this actually mean for life or even human life?

Concerning humans, H. sapiens sapiens, have existed for roughly the last 180,000 years as a species. The sibling species, H. neanderthalus, existed for roughly the last 450,000 years and became extince around 28,000 years ago. The prior human species, H. erectus, existed for 1.2 million years and became extinct around 220,000 years ago. It is doubtful that our species will exist in 1.5 million years, but would have evolved into another species considering prior human evolution.

However, if the pygmy chimpanzee follows a simular evolutionary path and thus a form of primate will exist that may look very simular to humans. One cannot say if this would occur, as that species could easily become extinct in the wild within the next 100 years. Even so, if a primate were to evolve then their cognitive abilities may not be advance enough to enjoy the technology that we humans current have. I am thus writing into the dark of the unknow future.

As to life on Earth, assuming that the planet has not be ravage by nuclear war, whatever life forms exist will not actually have an awareness of a close neighboring star in the outer reaches of the solar system. It could gravitationally interact with the Sun and possibly could eventually orbit, depending upon the speed at which it enters or collides with the outer regions of the Oort Cloud. More likely, it will reside on the outer fringes of the solar system for 20 or 50 thousand Earth years, during which comets will gravitation be directed inward towards the planets.

Space is huge, even at 1.1 light year distance, an incomming comet could take thousands or millions of years for its orbit to degrade to where it would be seen from the Earth. So, humanity will either be extinct by 1.5 million years or there might be a planetary impact that would wipe out what life forms exist.

What if a comet were to hit Mars or Venus?

It would be quite an explosion and momentary add water vapor to the Martian or Venusian atmosphere, but it would not create an ocean for the development or process of evolution to occur on those worlds. Both planets would require several thousand comet impact to bring enough water vapor for the creation of an ocean. If there is a analogus Oort Cloud around Gleise 710, then there could well be several thousand comets intersecting within the inner solar system, if that Oort cloud is 1 light year in diameter. Being that Saturn and Jupiter are the largest planets in the solar system, there probably will be several impact events in the Jovian clouds or even on the moons in the outer solar system. So in 1.3 to 1.5 million years, the solar neighborhood is going to be a little different than it current exists.

Just imagine the fireworks and nightsky displays with comets whizzing past the planets.

What it if destablizes the gravity wells that exist around the planets where the moons occupy?