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Name: Mike W.
Status: educator
Age: 17
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: Thursday, September 12, 2002

Outside of a collision with a asteroid/meteor or the sun expanding, what are other potentially earth lethal astronomical occurrences?

Mike -

An interesting question that is the domain of both scientist and fiction writer. Just a couple of thoughts which come quickly to mind...

The sun is scheduled to go supernova... but not for about 4.5 billion years.

The rotation of the earth continues to slow lengthening our day (due to tidal friction). Someday this could greatly change our weather. (But we will likely be sucked in by the supernova first.)

Are you familiar with the Oort cloud. It is hypothesized to be a stock pile of comet nuclei (maybe 100's of trillions of them) located 50,000 AU from us and orbiting our sun. A passing large body (perhaps a dark star) could disturb this cloud and cause a torrent of comets. Some think this may have happened at a point early in the solar system's history.

All of these are reasons (and more manmade ones) that we should appreciate the importance of moving off the earth into space. Our earth is fragile and it would be a shame if - as unlikely as they are - the earth and mankind are destroyed by one. We do have all our eggs in one basket - the earth.

Larry Krengel

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