Like a car speeding through a cloud of mosquitoes, Scholz's star would have likely splatted some comets and scattered many more during its close encounter, although the overall effect on the Oort Cloud would have likely been minimal, the researchers point out.
PHOTO: Hubble Finds Galaxy's Stars Scattered Far from Home
The researchers also calculated that at its closest approach, Scholz's star would have only been a 10th magnitude star, approximately 50 times dimmer than what we could normally see on a clear night without the aid of a telescope. However, as the star is known to be magnetically active, our ancestors may have looked up in wonder at flaring events on the star that would have lasted for minutes to hours at a time. To any observers paying attention at the time, these flaring events would have appeared out of nowhere in the night sky, boosting the brightness of the red dwarf by a thousand times.
Although rare over evolutionary timescales, as this most recent discovery shows, close encounters with stars do happen regularly over galactic timescales and astronomers are working to spot any more stars that may have buzzed our solar system in the recent past or may do in the future.