I'm doing research for a story that I'm writing and I'd like some physics advice on whether a hypothetical system of celestial bodies is possible.

Suppose the following:

  • A system of planets orbiting a star, similar in size to our own.
  • A cloud of debris (Asteroids, technological refuse, and dust) surrounds the entire system, similar to the description of a Dyson swarm.
  • The outermost planet orbiting on a path that intersects the cloud during a small portion of it's year, but is within the cloud for the majority of it's year.

Is this configuration possible within our understanding of physics, or would gravity cause the objects of the cloud and the outermost planet to 'snap' to an orbit that does not intersect? Would the planet 'capture' objects within the swarm in it's own orbit?

My story takes place on the inside of a Dyson swarm or bubble, where interplanetary travel has developed to a reasonable degree, but cannot escape the swarm. An area of intrigue might be the outermost planet. If it can be landed upon while it's orbit is within the swarm, people could 'ride' the planet through to the other side if they stayed there for a number of years or went into stasis there.

Any thoughts or opinions are greatly appreciated.

  • $\begingroup$ The official definition of a planet is (in part) that it has cleared it's orbit of debris, so in a quasi-legal sense that might be an issue. $\endgroup$ – StephenG Jun 6 '19 at 18:46

The solar system IS surrounded by a cloud of debris,left over from its formation. This debris is called the Oort Cloud,& consists of thousands of comet-like bodies,sometimes described as dirty snowballs. None of the known major planets passes through them,but a few years ago some astronomers seemed certain that they had detected signs of a 9th major planet much further out than the others. They predicted it was only a matter of time before this planet would be discovered,but so far it hasn't been. If there is indeed such a planet & part of its orbit passes through the Oort Cloud,it would probably sweep a lane through it eventually. The planet would not be a nice place to live,as the likelihood is that it has a temperature close to that of liquid nitrogen,& is frequently struck by comets & other debris.


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