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Solar Sibling: Astronomers Discover First Sibling of Sun, ‘HD 162826’

First Posted: May 12, 2014 07:47 AM EDT
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A team of astronomers has discovered a sibling of the Sun born from the same stellar nursery and located in the Hercules constellation.

For the first time astronomers at the University of Texas, Austin, have discovered the first sibling of the Sun that is believed to be born from the same cloud of gas and dust as our star. The long lost brother of the sun dubbed 'HD 162826' is found located 110 light years away in the constellation Hercules.  Though the star is not visible to the naked eye it can be seen clearly with low powered binoculars.  In the night sky, the star can be located near the bright star Vega.

The discovery, led by astronomer Ivan Ramirez, may help astronomers in the future to spot other solar sibling to further understand how and where the Sun was formed and how the solar system started supporting life. 

 The astronomers also build on a small hope that the solar sibling stars could support other planets that harbour life. 

The solar sibling, HD 162826, is 15 percent bigger than the Sun.  This long lost brother was found after the astronomers followed up on 30 viable candidates.  Out of these 23 stars were studied in deapth with the Harlan J. Smith Telescope at McDonald Observatory, and the remaining stars (visible only from the southern hemisphere) with the Clay Magellan Telescope at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile.

A high resolution spectroscopy was used to gain an insight into the composition of the star.

To confirm if the suitable candidate was indeed a solar sibling, the astronomers looked at various factors such as its stras'orbits and chemical analysis.  The study confirmed that HD 162826 was the sibling of the Sun.

It is unclear whether or not this star has any life bearing planets.  They have confirmed that no huge planets orbit close to the star. 

"Don't invest a lot of time in analyzing every detail in every star," Ramirez said. "You can concentrate on certain key chemical elements that are going to be very useful. These elements are ones that vary greatly among stars, which otherwise have very similar chemical compositions. These highly variable chemical elements are largely dependent on where in the galaxy the star formed. Ramirez's team has identified the elements barium and yttrium as particularly useful."

This finding was documented in The  Astrophysical Journal.

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