Since the Solar System developed, Earth has been located in a corner considered perfect for the development of life as we know it; after all, the Sun is at the perfect distance to illuminate the planet and not burn us alive. According to some thought experiments carried out by different scientiststhere is a small possibility that Earth will leave the Solar System and become a 'nomadic planet'.
In the short story The Wandering Earth, which received a film adaptation of the same name, author Liu Cixin portrays a hypothetical world in which the Sun dies and scientists must create thrusters to take the Earth to another region of space. In the story, in addition to the Sun having stopped working, humanity fears that a solar explosion will occur that could kill all the people living on the planet.
Obviously, this is a science fiction story, and there is no evidence that this could happen in the next few years. In fact, science predicts that the Sun will only go out and die in 5 billion years. In other words, it is likely that humanity has already disappeared a long time ago, or that our technology has advanced enough to allow us to travel to other habitable planets outside the Solar System.
“It is very unlikely. The Earth could be knocked out of its orbit by the action of a massive interstellar object, flying through interstellar space and entering the solar system and passing close to our planet. In this close encounter, known as a 'flyby', Earth and the object would exchange energy and momentum, and Earth's orbit would be disrupted. If the object were fast, massive and close enough, it could throw the Earth into an orbit directed outward from the Solar System,” aerospace engineer Matteo Ceriotti, associated with the University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom, told the website. Live Science.
All science fiction aside, could Earth leave the Solar System at some point in the future? TecMundo gathered information from scientists and experts in the field to explain more about the subject.
Drifting land? Not so easy!
As thought experiments describe, Earth could slowly move away from its orbit due to a massive interstellar object. The speed rate of this movement could increase significantly if this object entered the Solar System; If it passed close to Earth, the planet would be driven out of our star system. The exchange of energy between the planet and the object would be responsible for the cosmic force that would propel the Earth outwards.
Although it is an unlikely possibility, scientists suggest that it would not be exactly impossible. According to senior physics professor Timothy Davis, from Cardiff University, in the United Kingdom, the same situation could also happen due to the gravitational interaction of two stars.
The United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) explains that this could happen if the Andromeda and Milky Way galaxies collided with each other, something that could actually happen in 4.5 billion years — in both cases, it would be impossible for human beings to survive.
According to scientists, it would be unlikely that the Earth would leave the Solar System, however, it would not be completely impossible.Source: Getty Images
“If the Earth left the solar system, It is very likely that the vast majority of life as we know it would disappear. Almost all of the energy used by living organisms on Earth originates from the Sun, either directly (e.g., plants that photosynthesize), or indirectly (e.g., herbivores that eat plants and carnivores that eat herbivores). In this scenario, the further the Earth moves away from the Sun, the lower its temperature will become. It would end up freezing completely. The only natural source of heat left would be the decay of radioactive elements in the Earth's crust left over from the formation of the Solar System,” Davis said.
Currently, the planets are in stable orbits around the Sun, so, apart from the situations already mentioned, it would be very unlikely that the Earth would leave the Solar System. Anyway, it would take an incredibly powerful force to expel our planet from the region where it is locatedwhether in the near future or billions of years from now.
In other words, although this scenario is not impossible, current humanity does not need to worry. Therefore, we will leave it to humans to worry about this situation in 4 billion years, when these possibilities are closer to becoming part of the reality of human civilization.
Did you like the content? So don't forget to share the article on your social networks, after all, your friends might also like to discover 15 interesting facts about the Solar System that you might not know about.