The sun has a sister star

"We want to know where we were born," UT astronomer Ivan Ramirez explained.
By Brooks Hays  |  May 9, 2014 at 3:19 PM
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AUSTIN, Texas, May 9 (UPI) -- The center of the solar system, the giant star that warms Earth, the sun, didn't grow up an only child.

According to new research by astronomers at the University of Texas at Austin, the sun has a twin sister. The sibling star is named, unimaginatively, HD 162826, and lies some 110 light-years away from us.

HD 162826 isn't visible to the naked eye, but a basic pair of binoculars will bring it into view, situated in constellation Hercules, not far from Vega, one of the brightest stars in the night sky.

In order to find potential sun siblings, researchers at UT studied 23 stars from McDonald Observatory in Fort Davis, Texas, that spin about the cosmos at roughly the same distance from the center of the galaxy. Using the Clay Magellan Telescope at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile, the astronomers also looked at high-resolution imagery of several stars only visible from the southern hemisphere.

HD 162826 was the only star they found to share a very similar chemical makeup with the sun, indicating that they likely formed from the same cloud of cosmic gas.

"We want to know where we were born," UT astronomer Ivan Ramirez explained in a news release from McDonald Observatory. "If we can figure out in what part of the galaxy the sun formed, we can constrain conditions on the early solar system. That could help us understand why we are here."

The work of Ramirez and his colleagues will be detailed in the June 1 issue of The Astrophysical Journal.

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