A star known as WISE J072003.20-084651.2 or Scholz’s star is a red dwarf star that reportedly past within a light year from our sun 70000 years ago, along with its brown dwarf companion. Apparently the star is 20 light years away from us in the Monoceros constellation.
According to the Astrophysical Journal Letters, Scholz passed about 5 trillion miles from us. The amazing thing is that no other star is known to have passed so close to our planet. Scholtz’s star is located in the constellation Monoceros, and has 8% of the Sun’s total mass and it is part of a binary system, that’s why it is usually referred to along with its brown companion, which is about 6% of the Sun’s mass.
Brown dwarfs represent the lowest end of the stellar spectrum. They are more massive than giant planets but still not massive enough in order to sustain hydrogen fusion for any given length of time.
The finding was made by a team of astronomers from the US, Chile, South Africa and Europe. They explained that the red dwarf star’s trajectory proves that fact that 70,000 years ago it really passed about 52,000 astronomical units away (0.8 light years, which equals 5 trillion miles).
Scholtz’s star was discovered about a year ago, by astronomer Ralf Dieter-Scholz of the Leibniz Institut fur Astrophysick in Potsdam, Germany. He used NASA’s Wide Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), with the help of which he mapped the entire sky infrared back in 2010 and 2011.
But scientists Ed Mamajek of the University of Rochester along with Valentin D. Ivanov of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) became intrigued by the motions of the red dwarf star, which is now 20 light years away from Earth. So as soon as they traced its movement across the sky, also referred to as tangential motion, they found it was really slow.
But at the same time the radial velocity of the star showed it speeding away from our solar system much faster than expected. So all these motions led the researchers into concluding that Sholz’s star is either heading toward our solar system or it is moving away from it.
“The radial velocity measurements were consistent with it running away from the Sun’s vicinity–and we realized it must have had a close flyby in the past,”
Mamajek explained after further studies.