• Researchers discussed the possibility of a rogue star entering the Solar System
  • Earth's orbit would destabilize due to the arrival of a second sun
  • Earth's orbital destabilization could kill all life on the planet

Scientists discussed the possibility of Earth getting kicked out of the Solar System by the arrival of a rogue star. According to the scientists, this scenario has a chance of happening based on computer simulations.

For the study, the scientists looked at planets in the Milky Way and how they would be affected by the arrival of a rogue star, which would essentially become a second sun. Their findings were presented in a new study submitted through the pre-print journal

According to the scientists, planets that revolve around a central host star, such as those in the Solar System, follow steady orbits due to the gravitational pull of the cosmic objects on one another. In other words, this gravitational interaction keeps each planet within its own place.

If another massive object with a strong gravitational pull enters this system, such as a rogue star, its presence could disrupt the orbits of the other planets. For instance, if one of Milky Way’s wandering stars suddenly enters the orbital plane of the Sun and Earth, the trajectory of the latter would destabilize.

Since Earth would no longer be on a stable orbit, it could get kicked out of the Solar System. As other scientific reports have shown, getting thrown out of a star system can be very dangerous for any planet. For one, since it no longer follows a steady orbit, it could collide with another planet.

Aside from a planetary collision, getting thrown out of a star system would have a significant effect on a planet’s habitability. In the study of Earth-like planets, scientists determine potential habitability based the proximity of these alien worlds to their host stars. If a planet is too close to a star, it most likely has hellish and hostile environmental conditions. Being too far, on the other hand, could turn a planet into a giant cosmic ice ball.

In other words, moving away from the Solar System and the Sun would drastically alter the conditions on Earth and kill all life on the planet, reported.

To determine if Earth is in danger of getting thrown out of the Solar System, the researchers analyzed the speed, mass, trajectory and positons of the stars wandering the Milky Way. Through the data they have collected, the researchers were able to determine if a star is in danger of disrupting Earth’s orbit around the Sun.

Although it is possible for Earth to get kicked out, the chances of this scenario happening are very slim. According to simulations created by the scientists, Earth only has one out of 15,000 chance of experiencing orbital destabilization in the course of four billion years.

An artist's concept of the solar system. NASA