Sun sibling found
13 May 2014, 15:50
Cape Town - Researchers analysing the interstellar dust have concluded that they have found the sun's sibling.
Reported in ScienceDaily, the team, led by University of Texas at Austin astronomer Ivan Ramirez discovered that the sun was made from the same cloud of dust and gas as a star called HD 162826, 110 light years from Earth.
The sibling star is in the constellation Hercules and 15% bigger than the sun, and the research opens the way for other siblings of the sun to be identified.
The scale of the study was huge in that the researchers had to identify the chemical signature of 30 possible stars, as well as the orbits and calculations on proximity to the centre of the Milky Way galaxy during the early formation period.
Finding stars similar to the sun may increase the chances that planets orbiting may contain the necessary ingredients for life as we may recognise it on Earth.
The search for extraterrestrial life has gained respectability among astronomers in recent times.
"Seti wasn't taken seriously in the beginning - you weren't taken seriously; you weren't a real scientist if you did that - now, one of the science cases for the SKA is to look for extraterrestrial life," Dr Nicola Loaring outreach astronomer at the South African Astronomical Observatory told News24.
Seti is the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence and the programme uses radio telescopes among others to search for signs of extraterrestrial life.
Some astronomers believe that it is just a matter of time before life outside the bounds of Earth is confirmed.
"People who work in the field say that within a century - within a 100 years - we will have evidence for life on some of those planets. Now it's doesn't mean it's intelligent life; it might be simple microbial life," said Professor Jocelyn Bell Burnell.
However, life may have evolved differently on distant planets and scientists have been speculating how observation from Earth might detect life.
"For example, large scale astro-engineering projects. On Earth, human beings have impacted on their environment. From a thousand light years away, ET can tell that we're burning fossil fuels because global warming will be detectable," said Professor Paul Davies, chair of the Seti: Post-Detection Science and Technology Taskgroup of the International Academy of Astronautics and a professor at Arizona State University.
Lead researcher Ramirez suggested that the sun was born from a cluster of stars 4.5 billion years ago though many have drifted far apart in the interim.