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The SUN has a long-lost 'brother' star
"The star HD 162826 is probably a "solar sibling," that is, a star born in
the same star cluster as the sun. It was identified by University of Texas
at Austin astronomer Ivan Ramirez, in the process of honing a technique to
find more solar siblings in the future, and eventually to determine how and
where in the Milky Way galaxy the sun formed. IVAN RAMIREZ/TIM
JONES/MCDONALD OBSERVATORY" [photo]
"Solar siblings? Astronomers discover sun's long-lost brother"
Published May 10, 2014
It turns out that the sun has a long-lost brother -- and now astronomers are
racing to map a solar family tree.
A new study from researchers at the University of Texas provides clues as to
how our sun was formed, whether there are other "solar siblings" in our
universe and, perhaps, a better understanding of how life in the universe
was formed billions of years ago.
The finding, which will be published next month in The Astrophysical
Journal, identifies a star that was almost certainly born from the same
cloud of gas and dust as the sun. Located 110 light years away in the
constellation Hercules, the star, called HD 162826, is 15 percent more
massive than our sun, and can be seen with low-power binoculars.
"We want to know where we were born," University of Texas at Austin
astronomer Ivan Ramirez said 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."
Ramirez and his eight-person team discovered HD 162826's relation to the sun
by following up on 30 possible candidates found by several groups around the
world looking for solar siblings. Ramirez's team studied 23 stars in-depth
at McDonald Observatory and several stars, visible only from the southern
hemisphere, using the Clay Magellan Telescope at Las Campanas Observatory in
Chile. Both observations required the use of high-resolution spectorscopy to
understand the stars' chemical makeup.
There's even a small chance these solar siblings could host life-sustaining
planets. When these stars were born, collisions could have knocked chunks
off planets, and these fragments could have traveled between solar
systems -- perhaps bringing primitive life to Earth. Conversely, fragments
from Earth could have sent life to planets orbiting other stars.
"It could be argued that solar siblings are the key candidates in the search
for extraterrestrial life," Ramirez said.
Next, Ramirez's team wants to create a road map for how to identify solar
siblings, operating on the theory that the sun was born in a cluster with up
to 100,000 stars. That cluster, however, formed more than 4.5 billion years
ago, and has long since broken up, spreading the stars out to different
parts of the Milky Way galaxy. Finding more solar siblings will provide the
best clues toward discovering our sun's origin, and Ramirez's discovery is
an important step in streamlining the identification process when it comes
to tracking down stars with the same galactic DNA, he told FoxNews.com on
"Already, we're getting a lot of data from a number of surveys," Ramirez
told FoxNews.com on Friday. "In five to 10 years from now, we're going to be
able to analyze 10,000 times more stars than what we're able to do right
FoxNews.com's Karl de Vries contributed to this report.
"This message has been intercepted by the NSA Nazis: the only branch of
government that listens."
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