Counted when humanity will reach the nearest stars

Beyond the Solar system there were four running human machine: Voyager-1 and -2 and Pioneer-10 and -11. When will their rendezvous with the nearest star? Now astronomers have the answer to this question.

Achievement is described in a scientific paper published in the journal Research Notes of the AAS Corina Balaram-Jones (Coryn Bailer-Jones) from the Institute of astronomy of society of max Planck and David Farnocchia (Davide Farnocchia) from laboratory of jet movement of NASA.

to conduct their calculations, the researchers used the second data release of the space telescope Gaia. It contains three-dimensional coordinates and speed for 7.2 million stars. This information, scientists supplemented the data speed of 222 thousand other luminaries from the database SIMBAD.

By the way, both authors were previously part of the group, who calculated, from which stars could fly interstellar object Omwamwi. Now they solved a similar problem from the other end: what the stars will reach the object is launched from the Solar system?

Alas, it turned out that the aliens are very little chance to admire the Golden tablets, sent on Board the “Voyager” or “Pioneers”. None of the four probes will not be included in the system of another star in the next billions of years. But for every machine there were four or five stars, to which he comes within a few light-years.

a Message to extraterrestrial civilizations, sent on Board the “Pioneers”.Illustration Wikimedia Commons.

The close rendezvous, which have any of these probes is a date “Pioneer 10” from red dwarf HIP 117795. He will approach the star at a distance of 0.75 light years (for comparison: distance from the Sun to the nearest star – Proxima Centauri – is 4.2 light-years). Meeting with HIP 117795 have to wait 90 thousand years. Sweet moment of goodbye will be short: the probe will fly past at a speed of 290 kilometers per second relativeSPECT to the stars.

as for the chronologically first approach with another luminary, for three of the four machines it is already mentioned Proxima Centauri. “Voyager-1 and Voyager-2” and “pioneer-11” made it in 17, 20 and 18 millennia, respectively, and will be held at a distance of 3.5, 2.9 and 3.4 light-years.

Only “Pioneer 10” was the first in the chart is the star Ross 248, and to her he will have to fly 34 thousands of years and be satisfied with a distance of 3.4 light years.

note that of the four devices connection is only supported with “Voyager”. Their energy sources are becoming scarce (42 years on the road – no joke), and engineers need to invent a non-trivial solution to extend their mission for another few years. So there is no hope that the mission will continue to communicate with other stars in working condition.

However, the dead probes still for millions of years will be able to travel in interstellar space, where there is practically no erosion. If they don’t meet on the way other natural (or not) objects, then the probability is almost zero, for it is unthinkable by the standards of humanity of the time they will stay great monuments to the daring of Homo sapiens.

By the way, earlier “News.Science” ( wrote about what the stars have to get close to the Sun, and with which it is met and how it ended. We talked about the daring project of sending a probe to alpha Centauri.

Text: To.Science