New research from the European Space Agency (ESA) using the Gaia telescope to study the motions of 300,000 stars in the Milky Way Galaxy, tracing the paths of those stars relative to the Sun, and anticipating their movements up to five million years into the future.
The researchers predict that 97 stars will miss our Sun by about 150 trillion kilometers at some point in the next 5 million years. Sixteen stars will graze our Sun at a distance of 60 trillion kilometers.
But the focus of this animation is the star known as Gliese 710. This star will have a close encounter with our Sun in 1.3 million years, passing within the Oort Cloud reservoir of comets in the outskirts of our Solar System.
Gliese 710 is predicted to pass within about 2.3 trillion kilometers, this is equivalent to about 16,000 Earth-Sun distances. The star’s motion is set against a background of other moving stars and the visualization covers, very quickly, the timeframe from about 1.1-1.5 million years in the future.
The size of the field of view is 10° × 5° (for comparison: the Moon spans 0.5° on the sky) and the colors represent the astronomical colors of the stars as derived from the Gaia data. Gliese 710 is an orange K-type dwarf star, an ordinary star similar to the Sun but less hot and less massive.