It has often been speculated that our sun may be part of a binary star system, or a system that contains more than one star, both of which can have big influences on each other. This theory came about because nearly 75% of all star systems identified in the universe are part of this two star cluster. Well recent discoveries by a group of Texas astronomers may not have uncovered the sun’s binary neighbor, but a sibling that was created in the same general location as our sun some 5 billion years ago, and then floated off into the beyond. This discovery could give us fresh information about our own star and ultimately how life on Earth started.
"We want to know where we were born," the astronomer, Ivan Ramirez, said in a written statement. "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."
Star HD 162826 (great name huh?) is located in the lower leg of the constellation Hercules. Though not visible to the naked eye, the star (which is 15 percent larger than the sun) can be seen with binoculars. Skywatchers can look toward the star Vega to spot the sun's sibling star.
To find HD 162826, Ramirez and his team studied 30 stars that other astronomers had identified as potential solar siblings. Using the Harlan J. Smith Telescope at the McDonald Observatory in Fort Davis, Texas, and coordinating with researchers at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile, Ramirez narrowed the list by analyzing the orbit and chemical makeup of each star. Under the research, HD 162826 was the only star in the group that satisfied the team's "dynamical and chemical criteria for being a true sibling of the Sun."
Evidence suggests sibling stars may host Earth-like exoplanets that might be capable of supporting life -- so by investigating the origins of the sun, researchers may also be advancing the search for extraterrestrial life.
"The idea is if a planet has life, like Earth, and if you hit it with an asteroid, it will create debris, some of which will escape into space," astronomer Mauri Valtonen of the University of Turku in Finland told Space.com in 2012. "And if the debris is big enough, like 1 meter across, it can shield life inside from radiation, and that life can survive inside for millions of years until that debris lands somewhere. If it happens to land on a planet with suitable conditions, life can start there."
The information in this article is courtesy of the Huffington Post.