The solar system is currently quite stable and has been so throughout human history, but what would happen if the gravitational harmony of the celestial bodies within it were disrupted?
To understand this, scientists used computer simulations. It turned out that if a star ever gets too close to us and the distance between Uranus and the Sun changes by 0.1 percent under the influence of its gravitational force, it’s not a good day.
It is possible that the disintegration of the system will start from the smallest planet, Mercury. Its perihelion, or closest orbital point to the Sun, changes by 1.5 degrees every 1,000 years, almost the same as that of the gas giant Jupiter. If this rate of theirs is equalized and we get resonance (coincidence), there is a 1 percent chance that Mercury will fall out of the system in the next 3-4 billion years. In the second scenario, it will collide with Venus, the Sun or the Earth.
Specialists observed a total of 2880 simulations. Most of these changes did not end in chaos. Despite this, in some, Venus collided with Mercury, and Earth collided with Mars, while in others, Uranus, Neptune and Mercury were outside the solar system.
According to researchers, the probability of a star coming this close to us and causing all this catastrophe is only 20 in 100 billion years, so you can rest easy.
The authors’ work is available on the scientific portal arXiv and will soon be published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.