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I found this image of what maybe a model of our solar system. Without a credible source I'm not sure I am looking at a star or black hole that comes close to our solar system and how it could throw Earth out of orbit from the sun and/or solar system?

I found it while Googling for how a solar system travels through space and did a picture search with no luck.

Is this possible? And what am I looking at?

enter image description here

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As far as I can tell, the origin of the image is this post on the Gravity Simulator forums.

From frankuitaalst's post there:

I started with the Onlyplantes.gsim , added about 200 bodies at ( I think ) 400 AU in circilar orbit , representing the Oort cloud and added 1 Solar mass originally in an excentric orbit with Sma 1000 AU .

As regards the question, yes a sufficiently close stellar flyby could eject the planets (either directly or by triggering planet-planet scattering). Such flybys are unlikely to occur in our Solar System's current location, they would be more of an issue in crowded stellar clusters.

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It looks like the model is a simulation of what happens if a massive object flies by a very narrow ring system type of thing with a circular orbit. The ring system setup seems improbable to me, and the massive object doesn't appear to fly in a straight line, so it's not very accurate for two reasons, but the gravitational effect seems accurate. If a massive body was to fly into the solar system and pass near Earth it could send the Earth out of the solar system or in towards the sun.

Fortunately, bodies that massive almost never fly inside the solar system, so that scenario is unlikely to happen over the lifetime of the sun.

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  • $\begingroup$ What program are they using? I think this was leaked since I was not able to find the source but maybe if I can find who uses this program. $\endgroup$ – Muze the good Troll. Feb 28 at 11:43
  • $\begingroup$ see comment for something possibly similar $\endgroup$ – uhoh Feb 28 at 12:38
  • $\begingroup$ @Muze I don't play with simulators so I have no idea. I like them, I've just never dabbled. $\endgroup$ – userLTK Feb 28 at 17:37
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That might be a simulation of Oort cloud. Loosely bound asteroids at the edge of sun gravity. Though it would be spherical instead of ring but it may be 2 d represention. Notice the fast moving inner planet. Since sun is stationary I think it is relative motion of stars as sun revolves around milkyway. Possibly, how we get long distance comet. As suggested this type of encounter are rare in inner solar system but not impossible. Yes on close enough encounter, earth can be ejected outward. I guess that would be one way to travel inter stellar distances :)

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