Feeds

We're from the SAME DUST CLOUD, BRO: Boffins find Sun's long-lost sibling

Separated at birth

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Astroboffins have found the Sun’s long-lost sibling, separated at birth from the star which now resides at the centre of our Solar System.

The Sun's much larger brother has 15 per cent greater mass and is located 110 light years away in the constellation Hercules, say boffins who are convinced it was almost certainly born from the same cloud of gas and dust as our own hot star.

The University of Texas astronomers who conducted the study say the methods they used (PDF) to find the rather lengthily titled star HD 162826 could help in locating more solar siblings and ultimately the birthplace of the Sun and our Solar System.

“We want to know where we were born,” lead author Ivan Ramirez said. “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.”

There’s also the chance that close relatives of the Sun were also able to host planets that are hospitable to life, making them good candidates for the search for alien beings. In the early days, before the newly formed stars spread out, collisions could have knocked chunks out of primitive planets and those fragments could have been responsible for bringing life to Earth and creating life on those worlds. Similarly, fragments broken off of early Earth could have taken the seeds of life to nearby planets orbiting other so-called "solar siblings".

“So it could be argued that solar siblings are key candidates in the search for extraterrestrial life,” Ramirez said.

The solar sibling can’t be seen by the naked eye, but it can be viewed even with low-power binoculars – for those who wish to try, it is located not far from the bright star Vega. (See chart below)

The star HD 162826 is probably a

The researchers figured out it was a Sun sibling by following up on 30 potential relatives identified by teams all over the world.

They studied the candidates with the Harlan J Smith telescope at McDonald Observatory and the Clay Magellan Telescope at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile, using high-res spectroscopy to figure out the stars’ chemical compositions. The astroboffins compiled that data with information about the stars’ orbits, where they had been and where they were going in their paths around the centre of the Milky Way, to narrow the possibilities down to HD 162826.

Although the astronomers are pleased to have found a solar sibling, they’re just as excited to have come up with a method that will help to identify many more when data comes in from new surveys like Gaia.

“The idea is that the Sun was born in a cluster with a thousand or a hundred thousand stars. This cluster, which formed more than 4.5 billion years ago, has since broken up,” Ramirez said. “A lot of things can happen in that amount of time.”

Astroboffins will have access to tens of thousands more stars in Gaia’s data, but although Ramirez’ method can speed things up, they’ll still be doing the research the hard way.

“[It’s not like] we’re going to throw this data into a machine and it’s going to spit out the answer,” he said. “It’s not that simple. You have to be careful, do things the old way: star-by-star analysis.” ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Simon's says quantum computing will work
Boffins blast algorithm with half a dozen qubits
LIFE, JIM? Comet probot lander found 'ORGANICS' on far-off iceball
That's it for God, then – if Comet 67P has got complex molecules
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
How to simplify SSL certificate management
Simple steps to take control of SSL certificates across the enterprise, and recommendations centralizing certificate management throughout their lifecycle.