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Astronomers Find Sun's Sibling 'HD 162826'

May 09, 2014 10:00 AM EDT
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Astronomers have found our Sun's sibling and it is located 110 light-years away in the constellation Hercules. 'HD 162826' is about 15 percent more massive than our star and researchers say that it was born from the same gas cloud that gave birth to the Sun.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, could help find other solar siblings and lead to a better understanding of how we came to be.

"We want to know where we were born," Ivan Ramirez of the University of Texas at Austin said in a news release. "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."

According to Ramirez, there is a small chance that the sibling stars could have rocky planets with living organisms. Our solar system had a violent infancy with chunks of rocks colliding with planets. There is also a possibility that rocks from these sibling stars might have brought life to Earth.

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

Researchers said they found 'HD 162826'  from a group of 30 possible candidates.

Ramirez's team not only used chemical analysis, but also looked at the orbits of these stars to find the star that was born from the same gas cloud as our Sun.

The finding is important because it helps researchers save time when looking for solar siblings.

"Don't invest a lot of time in analyzing every detail in every star," Ramirez said in a news release. "You can concentrate on certain key chemical elements that are going to be very useful." Stars have almost similar chemical composition, but have certain elements that are highly variable, depending on where the star was born. According to the new study, barium and yttrium might be particularly useful in searching for Sun-like stars.

The study is published in The Astrophysical Journal.

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