Home > astronomy > The most depressing news you'll hear all day (hopefully)

The most depressing news you'll hear all day (hopefully)

You know how the sun is going to burn out and eventually leave Earth as frigid and lifeless as the back corner of your freezer where that five year old popsicle is still waiting to be eaten (you thought I was going to say something dirty like “…as Glen Beck’s heart” or “…as Hilary Clinton’s bedroom”, didn’t you. Well I’ve  matured lately, so there.).  Anyway, the sun won’t die for another five billion years, leaving Earth plenty of time to destroy itself in all sorts of amazingly horrible ways. However, according to this article, we only have about one and a half million years before some truly scary shit happens.

A red dwarf star named Gliese 710 is scheduled to pass very close to Earth. When I say very close, you have to know that I mean that in a universally sense. The star is going to actually be passing about 50,000 astronomical units from the Sun, which is about one light year. Before you start panicking and raiding the Wal-Mart for all the Fun-Dip and Yoo-Hoo you can hoard, you should read the rest of the article. I don’t have any better news, it’s just that we have quite a while to wait. What kind of damage could a star passing 50,000 A.U. from the sun could do? By itself, not much, but if it passes through the Oort cloud it will start tearing shit up.

I know what you’re thinking, but Odo was the name of the alien from Deep Space Nine, what you should really be thinking about is what kind of impact could be had by passing through the Oort Cloud.  Like a cue ball breaking a rack, the star could disrupt the gravitational forces keeping Oort Cloud Objects (or OCOs if you’re the geeky scientist type, which I am (even more amazing, they actually have an acronym for Oort Cloud Objects)) in line. This could send numerous comets hurtling through the solar system and potentially Earth. While it wouldn’t matter if comets hit other planets (Jupiter is surprisingly resilient) if even one comet would hit Earth the effects would be devestating, like in that horrible Ben Affleck movie, Forces of Nature. I take comfort in the fact that I’ll be long, long, longlonglonglonglonglong dead before that happens.

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Categories: astronomy Tags: , ,
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  1. March 25, 2010 at 2:13 pm

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