Method to find relatives may point way to birthplace of solar system
I. Ramírez, Tim Jones/McDonald Observatory
One of the sun’s long lost siblings could be just 110 light-years away.
Astronomers have identified a star that might have formed in the same nebula as the sun and at the same time. The star, HD 162826, is in the constellation Hercules and is a bit warmer, brighter and more massive than the sun. Its discovery is part of an experiment to learn how to identify solar siblings efficiently. The experiment’s method could help researchers figure out where the solar system was born.
One sibling doesn’t reveal much. But having a good way to find many siblings should help scientists understand why the solar system is the way it is, says experiment leader Iván Ramírez, an astronomer at the University of Texas at Austin. Over the 4.57-billion-year lifetime of the sun, its nebular kin drifted away as the motions of the stars and relentless tug of the galaxy’s gravity tore the family apart.