Saturday 10 May 2014

Sol: twinned with HD 162826

In a rather interesting discovery, a star in the constellation of Hercules has been analysed and astronomers have concluded that it originated in the same stellar nursery as the sun. HD 162826, aka HR 6669 (we need a better name for this thing) matches the sun in its basic chemical composition and is likely to have formed from the same primordial nebula. This article explains the findings nicely, or you can download the original paper here.

Located 110 light years away, the star is not visible to the naked eye, although it can be made out with a good pair of binoculars on a clear night. The team at the University of Texas have analysed fifteen years worth of observations to build up a coherent picture of this star. While it does not have any of the easier to spot superjovian planets, it may have still undetected terrestrial planets. If it does, it will be a key target in the search for extraterrestrial life, since the composition of its planets is likely to be similar to our own solar system.

The fact that our two stars have drifted over a hundred light years apart shows just how much movement the stars manage in the billions of years since their formation. There is likely to be many more stars, possibly hundreds, in the local vicinity that originated in our sun's stellar nursery.

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