A Star Visited Our Solar System 70,000 Years Ago

A new study looks into distant objects in our solar system that were affected by a flyby of a small star some 70,000 years ago. According to the study, at the time the star flew by our solar system 70,000 years ago, humans were already present on Earth, suggesting that humans saw it at the time when it flew by.

A team of scientists collaborated back in 2015, and made an announcement of a red dwarf star, called Scholz’s star, flew by our solar system 70,000 years ago. According to the scientists, the star approached about 1 light-year to our sun. According to scientists, the closest neighbor star to our sun is located roughly 4.2 light-years away, and is called Proxima Centauri. To get these conclusions, scientists measured the motion and velocity of Scholz’s star. The star travels through space with a tiny companion, a brown dwarf, known as a “failed star,” and they are extrapolating backward through time.

According to the study, the star grazed by our solar system during the time when early humans lived with Neanderthals on Earth. If our ancestors could see it, that means that it likely appeared in the night sky as a faint reddish light. However, the new study debunks the previous theories and analysis with new evidence.

Carlos de la Fuente Marcos and his team of the Complutense University of Madrid analyzed 339 known solar system bodies with hyperbolic orbits. Those orbits are V-shaped, compared to others that are circular or elliptical. Hyperbolic orbits could host objects that come from interstellar space in theory, similarly to ‘Oumuamua, which is the first ever recorded interstellar object to visit our solar system. However, those same objects could belong to weird tracks made from gravitational interaction with the sun or planets that orbit it.

“Using numerical simulations, we have calculated the radiants or positions in the sky from the sky from which all these hyperbolic objects seem to come,” de la Fuente Marcos said in a statement referring to the visiting star that jostled by our solar system 70,000 years ago. “In principle, one would expect those positions to be evenly disturbed in the sky, particularly if these objects come from the Oort Cloud,” he said. “However, what we find is very different: a statistically significant accumulation of radiants. The pronounced over-density appears projected in the direction of the constellation of Gemini, which fits the close encounter with Scholz’s star.”

However, the first interstellar asteroid visitor ‘Oumuamua doesn’t belong to the Gemini group, so that cigar-shaped object is coming from another star system. They added that there are eight other bodies that could come from interstellar space, which includes Comet ISON according to Space.com, that tore itself apart when it approached too close to the sun on its trajectory in November 2013. The new study was published last month in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters. The paper is available for free at the preprint site arXiv.org.

About the Author

Danica Simic
Danica Simic has been writing ever since she was a child. Before she started writing for ValueWalk she was reviewing laptops, headphones and gaming equipment as well as writing articles about astronomy and game development. Danica is a student of applied and computational physics while also studying software and data engineering. Her hobbies include reading, swimming, drawing and gaming whenever she has free time. - Email her at dsimic@valuewalk.com