Though we may think of the planets in our solar system as stable and fixed in their current orbits, this may not have always been the case, and it may change in the future.
The Earth could one day collide with another planet or even be hurled out of the solar system. Here’s a look at the likelihood that Earth and its neighbors could experience serious disruptions.
Apocalyptic Predictions by NASA Researchers
In 1999, astrophysicists Fred Adams and Greg Laughlin made predictions about the future of our solar system. They used calculations and simulations to model more than 200,000 possible interactions between planets and other celestial bodies over the next 3.5 billion years.
They found that:
1.Earth has a one in 100,000 chance of being flung into space or plunging into the sun—odds “much greater than your chances of winning the Michigan lottery,” noted Adams in a University of Michigan report from that time. The study was supported by the university and NASA. This would be part of a chain reaction starting with Jupiter and a passing star. “Jupiter is vulnerable to gravitational interactions with a passing star,” Adams said. “Because of its large mass, even a modest disruption of Jupiter’s orbit could have a catastrophic effect on Earth.”
2. Earth has a one in 2.2 million chance of being directly ejected from the solar system by a passing star.
3. Earth has a one in 3.6 million chance of being captured by a passing star.
4. The solar system has a one in 300,000 chance of capturing a passing star.
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