Dec 16, 2018 | Updated: 09:51 PM EST

Passing Stars May Send Comets Smashing Into Earth – Eventually

Jan 07, 2015 11:34 AM EST

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Scientists believe they have uncovered the potential for an actual "Death Star" that could severely impact life as we know it on Earth.  But there is nothing to worry about, at least for now.

According to calculations made by scientist Coryn Bailer-Jones of the Max Planck Institute, he estimates that two orange dwarf stars, GL 710 and Hip 86505, could start messing with cometary orbits as they approach our solar system.  If they get close enough, their gravitational pull could send waves of comets in our direction, increasing the likelihood of a large Earth impact. These comets would most likely originate in the Oort Cloud - a spherical field of comets and icy plantesimals that surround the Sun.

While this may sound frightening, the truth is that we have little to worry about, at least for now.  If the math holds up, these comets and other bodies won't come hurdling in our direction for another 240,000 and 470,000 years from now. In an interview with NBC news, Bailer-Jones emphasized that there are much more immediate concerns for the human race.

"Of course, given a long enough time scale, then it's inevitable that something large will be on a collision course with the Earth, just as it's highly likely that a super volcano will go off within the next few million years," Bailer-Jones says. "These are real, but very long-term risks, and not worth worrying about now given that humanity faces equally significant risks on much shorter timescales. If people want to try to avoid doom, they should be looking to avoid human-generated catastrophes such as international aggression, environmental destruction, and antibiotic resistance."

The researcher added that it is probably more likely that our planet will be struck by a near-Earth asteroid long before a dangerously large, Nemesis-scenario comet finds itself threatening life on Earth.

Icy comets impacting Earth has long been suspected to be one way in which water was delivered to Earth, in the very early years of the planet.  However, many believe the Earth was simply too hot to have kept the water from these impacts.  The impacts would have had a cooling effect on the planet, however, preparing it to receive meteorites containing water. 

"Surface water as it exists on our planet today, must have come much, much later - hundreds of millions of years later," geologist Horst Marschall said in a recent statement.

Large impacts from comets could have potentially disastrous effects on life as we know it.  Luckily, even our great-great-great grandchildren will have long turned to dust by this time happens, and who is to say humanity will still exist by then?

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