In 1.35 million years. EVERYONE PANIC NOW. Excerpt:
Researchers have known for a while that a star called Gliese 710 is headed straight for our solar system, but they’ve now worked out precisely when it should arrive.
The star is currently hurtling through space at about 32,000 mph, and is around 64 lightyears away. (One lightyear is around 5,878,000,000,000 miles.)
Gliese 710 is about half the size of our sun, and it is set to reach Earth in 1.35 million years, according to a paper published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics in November.
And when it arrives, the star could end up a mere 77 light-days away from Earth — one light-day being the equivalent of how far light travels in one day, which is about 26 billion kilometers, the researchers worked out.
As far as we know, Gliese 710 isn’t set to collide directly with Earth, but it wil be passing through the Oort Cloud, a shell of trillions of icy objects at the furthest reaches of our solar system.
So although 77 light-days sounds like a relatively safe distance, the speeding star could burst through the cloud and shoot these icy objects and comets all around our solar system. Any one of these is pretty likely to collide with Earth.
Let’s be honest; the only reason I find this interesting is because of my own personal science-geekery. It’s fun to read about. But nobody should waste much brain-pan activity worrying about the eventuality. If Gliese 710 does come barreling through our neighborhood in 1.35 million years, one of two things will be the case:
- There won’t be any humans left on Earth, or
- The humans left on Earth will be so advanced (look back at the last 100 years of technological progress, and imagine where we’ll be in 13,500 times that duration) that the incoming shower of comets and whatnot won’t pose any threat.
So, relax. If you want to find a real threat to the future of the human race, you need look no farther than the Imperial City – or Tehran. Those are threats we can do something about.