The Chance of a Rogue Planet Colliding with Earth and Killing Us All
Rogue planets, which are also called free-floating planets, wander through space without being tethered to any stars, and they have the potential to collide with other objects, including Earth. Scientists have calculated the probability of a rogue planet colliding with Earth.
Rogue planets may form in or outside a planetary system. Scientists don’t know how many rogue planets exist but suggest there could be billions or trillions in the Milky Way alone. With this in mind, there is a possibility of rogue planets colliding with other objects, including Earth.
A mass of similar size to our planet would inevitably destroy Earth if it collided with us directly. If we were to experience a glancing hit, it could knock us out of orbit, causing Earth to become a rogue planet. In the second scenario, Earth would not face destruction, but rather, it would either be pushed away from the Sun resulting in freezing temperatures, or pulled towards the Sun causing scorching heat.
So, what is the chance of any of these humanity-ending scenarios playing out?
“I would estimate that the likelihood of a rogue planet coming within the solar system over the next 1,000 years to be a one in a billion chance,” Garrett Brown, a celestial mechanics and computational physics researcher at the University of Toronto, told Newsweek.
According to Brown, predicting the chances of a direct collision between Earth and a rogue planet is a challenging task. However, he mentioned that the probability of such an event is much lower than the possibility of a rogue planet indirectly affecting Earth’s orbit. Nonetheless, the unpredictability and hazards of space warrant further exploration and research to understand the potential threats and opportunities it presents.
While the concept of rogue planets has been around for many years, recent technological advancements have allowed scientists to detect and study them more effectively. Rogue planets come in varying sizes and compositions, ranging from small rocky bodies to gas giants similar in size to Jupiter. Despite their elusiveness, the potential existence of billions or even trillions of these planets in the Milky Way highlights the need for continued research to better understand their nature and potential impact on the universe.
Rogue planets travel independently through space and are not tethered to any star, which sets them apart. Two main theories explain their formation: one proposes that gravitational forces from other planets or stars expel them from planetary systems, and the other suggests that they form independently outside of a planetary system.
Estimates suggest that there are billions or trillions of rogue planets in the Milky Way, but it’s difficult to determine an exact number. These free-floating planets have varying sizes and compositions, ranging from small rocky bodies to gas giants similar in size to Jupiter.
Rogue planets’ wandering nature means they may collide with other objects in space, including our solar system’s planets. The impact could have catastrophic effects, from a glancing hit that changes Earth’s orbit to a direct collision that destroys the planet.
The chances of a rogue planet colliding with Earth are low. Experts estimate a one in a billion chance of one entering our solar system. If it were to come close, there’s a one in 2,000 chance of it directly altering Earth’s orbit. Nonetheless, researching rogue planets remains important to predict and prevent potential collisions.
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