Astronomers have discovered that a red dwarf along with its brown dwarf companion past within a light year from our sun 70000 years ago. The red dwarf moved through the outer limits of the Oort Cloud which surrounds our Solar System.
The star was designated as WISE J072003.20-084651.2, or Scholz’s star and is 20 light years away from us in the constellation Monoceros. According Astrophysical Journal Letters the red dwarf passed about 5 trillion miles from us. No other star has been known to have passed so close by.
The red dwarf would not have been visible to naked eye from Earth even during the close encounter. However the researchers from the led by the University of Rochester’s Eric Mamajek, contend that our ancestors in Africa might have seen a magnetically induced flare up.
Mamajek and his colleagues were puzzled by the star’s trajectory after finding that it seemed to be moving away from us or towards us in the past at a very high velocity. Using data obtained from the Southern African Large Telescope and the Magellan Telescopes in Chile, they calculated its relative motion.
Mamajek said in a news release, “Sure enough, the radial velocity measurements were consistent with it running away from the sun’s vicinity — and we realized it must have had a close flyby in the past.”
It was indeed good news that the red dwarf missed us. A different group of Astronomers say that another star HIP 85605 will be making a dangerous pass through the Oort cloud some 240,000 to 470,000 years from now. We can say that HIP 85605 will not come closer than its predecessor Scholz’s star.
Mamajek, authored the book “The Closest Known Flyby of a Star to the Solar System” along with other astronauts which include Scott Barenfeld, Valentin Ivanov, Alexei Kniazev, Petri Väisänen, Yuri Beletsky and Henri Boffin.