Oort Cloud dynamics

  • #1
1. Assuming the Oort Cloud of the Solar System stretches 'almost' to our nearest Star neighbour, how would it interact with that Star's 'Oort Cloud'? I imagine objects constantly colliding between the two systems perhaps causing them to leave the cloud.

2. Does the Oort cloud form a ring of certain depth in the plane of the system or in fact envelopes the solar system completely?

3. What elements are thought to be in the Oort Cloud e.g. water ice, minerals, etc.?

4. Would the Oort Cloud be a hazard for Spacecraft passing through it?

Thanks.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Klystron
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4. Would the Oort Cloud be a hazard for Spacecraft passing through it?
Calls for speculation but I imagine not. Rather than regard then as hazards, future space crews would seek out Oort cloud objects for water, breathable gases and fuel. Stoney and metallic objects or objects where those elements predominate, will be charted and identified for exploitation.

Radar can be fine-tuned to identify water in its several states, particularly in crystalline form. Clouds -- water vapor -- make excellent radar returns depending on wavelength, pulse width and related factors. A large component of search radars that track metallic objects such as aircraft exist to reduce returns from water in our atmosphere. IOW current technology can identify and track Oort cloud objects before they create a hazard to spacecraft.

Navigation hazards can be identified with orbits charted by telescope, spacecraft, emplaced beacons, and future tracking installations, none of which require human operators. Artists show asteroid belts, Kuiper and Oort clouds as thick with objects like leaves on a tree or horses on a carousel. If you use the diameter of even the largest asteroids such as Ceres as a ruler, the asteroid belts between Mars and Jupiter are mostly open space. Depending on the answer to question #2, the Oort cloud is even more tenuous with millions of objects spread over a large volume.
 
  • #3
phyzguy
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I don't think you appreciate just how empty the space out there in the Oort cloud is. For some rough numbers, imagine 1 trillion (10^12) objects in a space 100,000 AU in radius. If you go through the numbers, this works out to an average spacing between objects greater than 10 million kilometers. So collisions basically never happen, and a passing spacecraft would be unlikely to even come within sight of a single object, let alone hit one.
 
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