It has recently been announced
that a Sister Star
to our own Sun has been discovered. Actually, "discovered" is not quite the right word, since the star itself -- HD 162826 -- has been known to science for some time, and has been one of a collection of stars under especially keen observation by astronomers for some fifteen years. But what has been discovered (in a project independent of this observation) is that the characteristics of this star indicate a high degree of probability that it was born from the same swirling foundry of burning gasses as our own home star. The methodology of this determination is two-fold -- first, the researchers examined the distribution of elements which broil within the heart of this star, comparing them to the particular mixture found in our Sun to see if they would sound
and taste the same
. And second, they traced the path which the star courses along, subtracting for the sea of gravitational forces pulsing through our Milky Way
, and found that this path traced backwards to a point alongside where our Sun would have been billions of years ago.
Interestingly, it is possible to calculate with exactness the rate at which our star and its cosmic sibling have sailed apart in the vastness of space. This star is 110 light years away, and both it and our Sun, are 4.57 billion years old. Light travels
at 186,282 miles per second, which is 11,176,920 miles per minute, which is 670,615,200 miles per hour, which is 16,094,764,800 miles per day, which is 587,861,000,000 miles per year. In 110 years, that being the measure of 110 light years, the distance covered is 64,664,700,000,000 miles in 110 years. That is how far apart our stars now are. And as HD 162826 has been drifting from us for 4.57 billion years, the distance between these sibling stars has grown by about 141,498,340 miles per year for that duration, which is a bit over 387,401 miles per day, and so a bit over 16,141 miles per hour. This may seem like a lot, surely quite a bit faster than any car or plane which we could imagine traversing Earth's surface. But it's actually quite a bit slower than the 67,108 miles per hour at which the Earth orbits the Sun.
Observation reveals it unlikely that this Sister Star has any large planets, though it may have yet undiscovered smaller ones (e.g. Earth-sized ones). Life is a possibility
, though our system's Saturn
promote that for us by sweeping our system clear of many planet-killer type asteroids, but the absence of such guardians does not absolutely preclude the discovery of life on worlds orbiting this sister star. Though it is hardly the most opportune target for a future visit (there being many nearer stars to us), there is some poetry to simply knowing it's out there, a star born from the same intragalactic womb as the one which nurtures our lives.