Astronomers say they have discovered a solar sibling to our sun, born from the same cloud of gas 4.5 billion years ago.
The star — named HD 162826 — was one of several thousand other baby stars (including the sun) that stayed together in a cluster for hundreds of millions of years before growing and drifting out across the Milky Way. The Los Angeles Times reports that the star is 110 light years away from the sun, and is slightly bigger, a little hotter on the surface, and has the same "chemical fingerprint."
Ivan Ramirez, an astronomer at the University of Texas at Austin, and the rest of his team weren't searching for the sun's siblings, but rather attempting to find the chemical elements necessary to detect them. Now that they made this discovery — which will be shared in a paper published June 1 in the Astrophysical Journal — Ramirez believes that it will be easier for researchers to grasp how our solar system was formed.
"If you track their orbits back in time and find where they intersect 4.5 billion years ago, we can finally see in what part of the galaxy our sun was born," he told the Times. "We would like to know the environment of the solar system when it was forming, and if it has anything to do with the way things are today."