It has long been suspected that the Sun may have, at one time, have had a twin. Now, researchers at the University of Texas have announced that they have found a star 110 light years away in Hercules that is probably a sibling of our own Sun. This star, named HD162826, is also about 15% more massive than the Sun.
So, how are scientists so certain?
According to researchers, the key to finding the Sun's long-dispersed siblings is stellar spectra. Because stars form in interstellar clouds of gas (nebulae), it is assumed that stars forming in any given nebula will have roughly the same composition. Narrowing the search down to 30 candidates flagged by other teams, the Texas team led by astronomer Ivan Ramirez then closely examined these stars looking for similarities with our own Sun. Result: HD162826 was almost a perfect match.
One possible sibling found, Ramirez is already planning on looking for more of the Sun's siblings by looking at their 'galactic DNA.' According to most estimates, there could have been up to 100,000 stars formed in the same nebula as the Sun. Over time, gravitational interactions between the stars caused them to scatter out of their cosmic nest.
The paper will be published in the Astrophysical Journal next month.
As a side note, believers on the fringe who believe in the whole Nemesis theory may finally have something to go on, but, according to real scientists and demonstrated by this study, such a star would be much, much farther away than the prophets of doom predict, far too distant to do any damage to us here on Earth.
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