NASA/MSFC/Aaron Kingery

Prehistoric visit from nearby star disturbed comets in our solar system

The lingering gravitational effects of a star that passed by our solar system some 70,000 years ago can be seen in the movements of dozens of comets today, Gizmodo reports. Astronomers previously found that Scholz’s star, a red dwarf now some 20 light-years away, had once brushed up against the outer limits of our solar system, coming within 0.8 light-years of the sun. Now, scientists have studied the paths of almost 340 comets with exaggerated, hyperbolic orbits, and found that a subset appear to have trajectories that were influenced by the gravity of Scholz’s star, they write in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. Scientists say Scholz’s star is just the most recent example of many to have paid us flying visits in the past.

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