Scientists have discovered the chances of a wandering star travelling through the Milky Way that could knock Earth off its perch and cause widespread chaos. Researchers from Sharif University have calculated the odds to discover there is a one in 15,000 chance a wandering star could enter the solar system and shove Earth away from the Sun.

The cataclysm would inevitably lead to the end of all life as we know it, although the researchers describe the chances as “negligible”.

However, moving towards the centre of the galaxy where it is a lot more crowded, the experts stated the chances of a planet being batted away by a rogue star are 160 times higher.

For a star to shove Earth away from the Sun, it would have to come within the orbit of Jupiter, according to Paul Stutter, an astrophysicist at SUNY Stony Brook and the Flatiron Institute. The chaos which could ensue also depends on how fast the star is moving.

Mr Stutter wrote for Space.com: “Generally, the faster the star blows through our solar system, the better it is for us; for a star in a hurry, there just isn’t enough time to really mess things up gravitationally.

“If the star is moving at least as quickly as the Earth orbits the sun (a little over 66,000mph, or 106,000kmh), then it has to pass within the orbit of Jupiter to have a decent chance of knocking us from our orbit; otherwise, its gravitational influence is just too inconsequential.

“But slow-moving stars can cause much more trouble: they only have to skirt the edges of the solar system to cause carnage.

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“Naturally, the mass of the passing star is critical, as well as the angle of impact.

“If the star is passing along the plane of our solar system, it has a lot of chances to get near enough to the Earth to destabilise us, and if the star comes within twice the distance of Earth’s orbit around the sun, regardless of other factors, we’re simply toast.”

Previous research has claimed a star would not need to come near Earth to cause chaos because it could travel through the Oort Cloud.

The Oort Cloud is a cloud on the edge of our solar system which contains billions of icy objects.

When the star travels through it, these objects could fly out in all directions, putting Earth at risk from the offshoot of icy debris.

Some astronomers have speculated that a star passing through the Oort Cloud roughly 65 million years ago projected an asteroid in the direction of Earth which ultimately led to the demise of the dinosaurs.

The previous research from Filip Berski and Piotr A. Dybczyński read: “Gliese 710 will trigger an observable cometary shower with a mean density of approximately ten comets per year, lasting for three to 4 million years.”



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