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There’s another star headed for our Solar System, but it won’t arrive for a while

Published Sep 1st, 2017 8:00PM EDT
space news

Today, a colossal asteroid is cruising past our planet at a pretty safe distance, but if humanity is still around in some 1.3 million years, things are going to be getting pretty dicey here on planet Earth. New research spearheaded by the European Space Agency suggests that there’s a star headed towards our Solar System, and when it gets here it’s going to make life very difficult for anyone still hanging out on Earth.

The star, called Gliese 710, is headed for a close encounter with our Solar System, and we know that thanks to the ESA’s work on what it calls the Gaia Mission. The initiative sought to create an extremely accurate 3D map of the Milky Way, and in doing so, plot the trajectories of as many nearby stars as possible.

The effort has successfully plotted the paths of hundreds of thousands of stars, and in studying the ones that will come closest to our neck of the woods over the next five million years, ESA’s Coryn Bailer-Jones discovered that Gliese 710 is going to cause some serious issues down the road.

The star won’t come into direct contact with our Sun, but it will cruise within 1.4 trillion miles of it. That’s close enough to disrupt the mass of icy debris, called the Oort Cloud, which surrounds our system. When it does that, it will likely send untold numbers of comets towards the center of the Solar System, making life very dangerous for anyone living on one of the inner planets, like Earth.

It’s worth noting that, given the current situation here on Earth with climate change, overpopulation, and the nuclear threat, there’s a good chance humanity won’t make it out of this century in one piece, so we probably shouldn’t be worried about what’s going to happen 1.3 million years in the future.