August 14, 2022

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A very rare event that could disrupt the solar system

A very rare event that could disrupt the solar system

Release Date:
July 11, 2022 14:18 GMT

Updated Date: July 11, 2022 14:40 GMT

The passing of a neighboring star could completely disrupt our solar system, but not this time.

Canadian researchers ran nearly 3,000 simulations indicating that the event could change Neptune’s orbit by 0.1%, enough to eject planets from the Solar System or cause them to collide.

However, such events only happen once in 100 billion years.

And according to a report published by Trustmyscience, within the solar system, any change in the course of the planets will have clear consequences for its evolution.

The long-term stability of our system has been a concern of astronomers for centuries, the report says, ever since Newton formulated his law of universal gravitation. However, the structure and evolution of planetary systems is shaped in part by interstellar flight, although its influence is limited.

In this context, University of Toronto scientists Garrett Brown and Hanno Wren are interested in shocks to nearby stars that are too weak to immediately disrupt the Solar System, but strong enough to measure the state of the Solar System’s dynamics.

The researchers asked: If a star approaches a few billion kilometers from our solar system, what would change the planets’ paths?

2,880 simulations of galactic orbits and their consequences after 4.8 billion years

In total, the Canadian researchers conducted 2,880 simulations of interstellar flybys near the Solar System. The results of their experiments were published on the arXiv platform before publication. Depending on the mass and distance of the tested star, the intensity of disturbances in the system varied, and continued even after 4.8 billion years.

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In fact, some simulations stopped when a planet was destroyed or ejected from the solar system. Hence, other disturbances are likely to occur after this date.

“We perform long-term integration processes and show that even small perturbations from interstellar flight can affect the stability of planetary systems over their lifetimes,” the researchers wrote.

“We observe that small perturbations in the orbits of exoplanets propagate between planets, increasing their potential to disrupt the inner planetary system,” the researchers added.

“Our results around the Solar System show that perturbations on the order of 0.1% of the semi-major axis of Neptune (the outermost planet of the Solar System) are strong enough to increase the potential for disruption of the Solar System. The distance between the Sun and Earth.

Most simulations produced interplanetary collisions

Of the 2,880 simulations run, 1,920 produced viable and measurable instabilities, and 960 produced perturbations too weak to be measured.

Of the possible simulations, most resulted in collisions between Mercury and Venus — the closest to the Sun — and 26 simulations left the system confused.

Some simulations showed Uranus, Neptune, or Mercury ejected from the Solar System, and one experiment resulted in a collision between Earth and Mars.