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They originate in the Kuiper belt and Oort cloud where they orbit the sun at great distance in 'conventional' orbits. When disturbed by the gravitation of a relatively nearby star or other body, their orbits are disturbed and they 'fall' towards the sun.
According to Oort, the comet cloud is relatively stable, except when the gravitational attraction of some passing celestial body (star, asteroid, another comet, etc.) disturbed the cloud, then a shower of comets would be shaken loose to be pulled towards the inner solar system by the Sun's gravitational influence.
Originally posted by Illustronic
We know of one tiny red dwarf 4 times the distance beyond our sun's Oort cloud and that is in just one direction and it is locked within its own star system. We can detect that so why couldn't we detect something 1/4 that mass 4 times closer? Not saying you said that. It was brought up by the OP and this is an illustration of scale.
So I was more using your post to shed light on the 'speculative theory' brought up by the OP, that there is no large mass body out there coming to get us, small bodies out there are pinballs, and largely wouldn't survive the trip to the inner solar system like comet Elenin.
I appreciate what you're saying and it does make sense to a great many of the objects. However, it doesn't seem to make much logical sense to the very long ones.
I'm truly curious and open to understanding...I'm not posting to carry any agenda at all.
If you get kicked by Neptune, you can go zooming off into the unchartered regions far beyond the Kuiper belt, but you will come back to see Neptune again.
The exception to this rule is, of course, Sedna. Sedna has one of the most elongated orbits around, but it never comes anywhere close to Neptune or to any other planet. Indeed, the earth comes closer to Neptune than Sedna ever does.
The orbit of every single other object in the entire solar system can be explained, at least in principle, by some interaction with the known planets (and, again, for you Oort cloud sticklers out there, the known galactic environment). Sedna alone requires Something Else Out There.
Either something large once passed through the outer parts of our solar system and is now long gone, or something large still lurks in a distant corner out there and we haven’t found it yet.
The second possibility that we considered and wrote about was that perhaps a star had passed extremely close to our solar system at some point during the lifetime of the sun.
Looking at the number of star near us in the galaxy and fast they all move relative to each other, we found that the chances of such a rogue star encounter happening sometime in the past 4.5 billion years was around 1%.
When we found Sedna, we, too, knew what was next: head back out into the night and keep looking. Until we found more, we wouldn’t know what this profound bit of the solar system was trying to scream so loudly in our ears.
The full survey, scheduled for release in March 2012, should provide greater insight. Once the WISE data are fully processed, released and analyzed, the Tyche hypothesis that Matese and Whitmire propose will be tested.
However, whether the odds are not good because it's impossible to recreate that or because of other reasons is not clear.