Our Sun Likely Born With An Evil Twin Called Nemesis

Posted: Jun 15 2017, 12:30am CDT | by , Updated: Jun 15 2017, 12:36am CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
Our Sun Likely Born with an Evil Twin called Nemesis
Jack-o-Lantern Sun. Credit: NASA/SDO

New evidence sugges all star are born in pairs

Our sun was almost certainly born with a twin. But it was not an identical one. That’s according to a new study.

The study from a UC Berkeley physicist and a radio astronomer from the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory at Harvard University reveals that almost all stars have companions including our nearest neighbor, Alpha Centauri, a triplet system. And our sun is no exception to that.

Astronomers have long searched for sun’s twin, a star dubbed Nemesis that supposed to have kicked an asteroid into Earth's orbit that smashed into our planet and killed the dinosaurs. But the evil twin has never been found. New evidence however supports the theory and suggests that Nemesis must be lying somewhere in the universe.

The evidence is based on a giant molecular cloud filled with recently formed stars in the constellation Perseus. By analyzing it, researchers have concluded that stars are born alongside a sibling and the same goes for our sun.

"We are saying, yes, there probably was a Nemesis, a long time ago," said co-author Steven Stahler from UC Berkeley.

"We ran a series of statistical models to see if we could account for the relative populations of young single stars and binaries of all separations in the Perseus molecular cloud, and the only model that could reproduce the data was one in which all stars form initially as wide binaries. These systems then either shrink or break apart within a million years."

Sun’s evil twin was separated by more than 500 astronomical units. One astronomical unit is the average distance between the sun and Earth (93 million miles) and the binary companion to our sun would have been 17 times farther from the sun than its most distant planet today, Neptune.

The twin is likely mixed with all the other stars in our region of the Milky Way galaxy, so it will never be seen again.

“Based on our simple model, we say that nearly all stars form with a companion. The Perseus cloud is generally considered a typical low-mass star-forming region, but our model needs to be checked in other clouds.” Lead author Sarah Sadavoy from Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory said.

The Perseus molecular cloud is a stellar nursery that is located about 600 light-years from Earth and is about 50 light-years long. The radio survey of the cloud produced a robust census of the binary and single-star populations in Perseus and has found 45 lonely stars, 19 binary star systems, and five containing more than two stars.

Researchers assume that all stars of masses around that of the sun start off in egg-shaped dense cores, after which some 60 percent split up over time. The rest shrank and formed tight binaries.

"Within our picture, single low-mass, sunlike stars are not primordial," said Steven Stahler . "They are the result of the breakup of binaries.”

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