A dark object may be lurking near our solar system, occasionally kicking comets in our direction.
Nicknamed “Nemesis” or “The Death Star,” this undetected object could be a red or brown dwarf star, or an even darker presence several times the mass of Jupiter.
Why do scientists think something could be hidden beyond the edge of our solar system? Originally, Nemesis was suggested as a way to explain a cycle of mass extinctions on Earth.
The paleontologists David Raup and Jack Sepkoski claim that, over the last 250 million years, life on Earth has faced extinction in a 26-million-year cycle. Astronomers proposed comet impacts as a possible cause for these catastrophes.
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.