Friday, January 21, 2011

One day in the After Glow...

On the left hand side is a schematic of Alpha Centauri A & B, which is located 4.6 light years away and a tiny Red Dwarf star some 4.22 light years away from us, is the third member of the Alpha Centauri triple system
Whereas, on the right hand side is the Stingray Nebula and it is 130 times the size of our solar system.  The Stingray Nebula is 18,000 light years away from Earth, and it appears about as big as a dime with as a stellar nebula.  

Eventually, Alpha Centauri A & B will evolve into a stellar nebula in about 5 or 6 billion years and will be simular to the Stingray Nebula.  The current age of the triple star system is approximately 4.85 billion years.  If our Sun and solar system stays within the current 4.6 light year distance, it would be a visionary experience for any human to see the night sky.   Unfortunately, the Earth has about 500-700 million years before the oceans begin to boil and life as we know it become extinct.  

So when the new nebula from the expansion of gas and dust particles from the Alpha Centauri A & B system, our Star and planets will actually be inside the whispy gas clouds of the stellar nebula before our own Star, Sol, contributes gas and dust particles within the stellar nebula. 

How can this be, giving the distance from the Sun to the nearest star system?   One has to think big, in distance and in size....

The Oort Cloud has a larger radius, estimated at about 50,000 AU (or 7.5x10^12 km).  Now the nearest star to the Sun is Proxima Centauri which is located at a distance of 4.3 light years (one light year is the distance traveled by light in one year). Now, 1 light year is 63,270 AU, which means that the distance to the nearest star is 272,061 AU.  We took the radius of the solar system to be 39.5 AU, which means it has a diameter of 79 AU or out to the orbit of Pluto.

  1. This means you could put the Solar System about 3440 times between the Sun and the nearest star taking this definition.
  2. If you include all the comets that exist in the Oort Cloud, then the Solar System has a diameter of about 100,000 AU, which means it would fit 2.7 times between the Sun and the nearest star. 
Thus, the size of the Stingray Nebula is 130 times the size of our solar system.   Where would life have the best view, where every night and day glowed like the auroras of the polar region?  

Yet, if life evolves in the Epilson Eridani system,  then those lifeforms would see the night sky filled with colors of the aurora's.    The sky would glow in the After glow of  the deaths of three stars; Sol, and Alpha Centauri A & B, from the view point of Epilson Eridani.  

It's only 5 Billion years from now....that an Alien Civilization on Eplison Eridani might be looking up into the night sky and wondering about the beauty in the sky.   May they develop E=MC^2 in their society and culture.  

Epsilon Eridani...

The Epsilon Eridani system

Image: This artist’s diagram compares the Epsilon Eridani system to our own solar system. The two systems are structured similarly, and both host asteroids (brown), comets (blue) and planets (white dots). Epsilon Eridani is our closest known planetary system, located about 10 light-years away in the constellation Eridanus. Its central star is a younger, fainter version of our sun, and is about 800 million years old — about the same age of our solar system when life first took root on Earth. Observations from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope show that the system hosts two asteroid belts, in addition to previously identified candidate planets and an outer comet ring. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.