Astronomical Twins: Lonely Sun May Have Had A Pair
The universe still remains a mystery. It seems that a new, strange truth about it has been revealed and it may have been a few lonely trillion years for the Sun. Young stars in the Perseus molecular cloud revealed that stars may have been born in pairs, and the Sun somehow lost its companion along the way.
As noted by Astronomy, all stars essentially formed in molecular clouds. As seen in observations from Perseus, all of these stars were gravitationally bound. In fact, such astronomical binary system may have been a requirement of protostars, and they could require a common center of gravity. Their companion should be there to accumulate mass -- and the dense cores can therefore use leftover material to form more stars.
The study appeared in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, stating that as many as 60 percent of the stars shed their binary pair over time. They may gain a wider distance from their pair until their gravitational bind is severed. They may also have different mass, meaning some of the companions could be brown dwarfs that could be cast out by their larger pairs.
There is also the possibility that the star pair is still around and can still influence its pair's environment. Scientists, for instance, have been speculating of a sun companion for decades.
Space.com reported that scientists theorized a gravitational tug that periodically jostles comets out of their normal orbits, which is how they end up toward Earth. Such impacts have caused mass extinctions, which earned the putative star the nickname Nemesis. However, new studies do not paint Nemesis as a sort of astrological murderer. It likely broke free from the Sun and melted into the Milky Way and its many stellar populations.
Why did scientists not realize such binaries until now? Steven Stahler, a research astronomer from the University of California Berkeley, stated, "The key here is that no one looked before in a systematic way at the relation of real young stars to the clouds that spawn them." Today, Stahler and his partner are doing some modeling work to better understand the revelation.