We’ve always assumed our sun was the only star in our solar system, but maybe not. We could be in a binary system, with a brown dwarf hiding in the Oort cloud. And it could be bombing us with comets. Or a green laser beam. Welcome to your tax dollars at work.
The star, referred to as Nemesis, or “The Death Star,” has been theorized for a while. But now NASA’s new satellite, WISE, could be able to prove its existence for the first time. The theory was developed to explain the waves of mass extinctions on Earth, every 26 million years for the past 250 million years.
Our solar system is surrounded by a vast collection of icy bodies called the Oort Cloud. If our Sun were part of a binary system in which two gravitationally-bound stars orbit a common center of mass, this interaction could disturb the Oort Cloud on a periodic basis, sending comets whizzing towards us.
An asteroid impact is famously responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, but large comet impacts may be equally deadly. A comet may have been the cause of the Tunguska event in Russia in 1908. That explosion had about a thousand times the power of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, and it flattened an estimated 80 million trees over an 830 square mile area.
So if we’re able to prove that Nemesis does exist, and its irregular orbit around our own sun is causing regular comet attacks, then the next thing will be for our greatest scientific minds to come up with a plan to neutralize it. Our only hope? A race of people that are only vaguely squid-like in name only.