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Close encounters with our target stars

22 Sep 2017, 14:21 UTC
Close encounters with our target stars
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by Dr. Fabo Feng of the University of Hertfordshire.

Edited by Zaira M. BerdiƱas and John Strachan.

As humans, we have an innate curiosity about the origins and development of life on Earth. We know that terrestrial life is influenced by the interstellar environment of the Solar System. In fact, there are plenty of studies focused on the effects of supernovae and impact events on the Earth. Some of these phenomena are typically caused by close encounters of stars with the Solar System. Consequently, it is important to study and report such flybys since these events could have played an equivalent roles across the Universe. See some examples of flyby related studies in references1,2,3.

Recently, my research has focused on simulating close encounters between stars. In my last work, done in collaboration with Hugh Jones and Tabassum Tanvir, I have simulated the orbits of more than 0.2 million stars using astrometric and radial velocity data from several catalogs (e.g. the Tycho-Gaia Astrometric Solution, TGAS; the Radial Velocity Experiment fifth data release, RAVE DR5; or the Large Sky Area Multi-object Fiber Spectroscopic Telescope second data release, LAMOST DR2, among others). Our results show about 0.2 million encounter pairs and 2760 stellar ...

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