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Considering their distance from their parent stars, might Oort cloud object such as comets be exchanged between passing stars (assuming that other stars have similar Oort clouds)?

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migrated from space.stackexchange.com Nov 13 '13 at 19:36

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Similar: physics.stackexchange.com/questions/41059/… –  Everyone Nov 14 '13 at 3:01

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

You can exclude the 'considering the distance' piece - of course Oort Cloud objects could transfer between different gravitational fields.

However what is it you think will make this transfer? Without some sort of gravitational impetus why would one of these objects leave the solar system? And if you do manage to slingshot one out of the solar system at a high enough speed to exit the Sun's gravity, remember that most directions end up very far away from any other solar systems.

Tl;Dr sure, but not very likely

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Methinks the question **may** have been prompted by Nevski's transit through the Solar System on a hyperbolic trajectory out of the Oort cloud ... –  Everyone Nov 14 '13 at 3:06
My line of thinking is that as stars pass one another on their way around the galaxy, they could 'brush' Oort clouds and thus exchange comets. The same mechanism may also perturb the comets to rain down on their own suns/stars. –  dotancohen Nov 14 '13 at 5:45
Everyone - sure. There is no reason why that can't happen, but the distances involved are huge, so I would expect most of the casualties of that kind of pass to not be captured. –  Rory Alsop Nov 14 '13 at 7:38
Dotancohen - distances! Oort clouds are pretty distant, but not a patch on the distance to another star. And generally there isn't much passing going on :-) –  Rory Alsop Nov 14 '13 at 7:39
The Oort cloud is about 1 LY from the sun, or 1/4 the distance to the current nearest star. That means that the gravitational pull of the current nearest star is 1/16 that of the sun: hardly insignificant. I don't believe that planets could have a stable orbit with that type of perturbation. –  dotancohen Nov 17 '13 at 6:32

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