Posted - 10/29/2006 : 02:43:29
As explained in a Space.com article by Robin Lloyd at CNN.com, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign astronomer Lesley Looney and his colleagues have discovered strong evidence that the early sun and solar system were part of a large cluster of thousands of sister stars. And at least one of those nearby sisters went supernova when the solar system was still forming.
In formative years, the sun had sisters
POSTED: 12:20 p.m. EDT, October 25, 2006
By Robin Lloyd
Special to SPACE.com
(SPACE.com) -- The sun had sisters when it was born -- hundreds to thousands of them, according to new research.
And at least one was a supernova, providing further support for the idea that there could be lots of planets around other stars since our solar system emerged in such an explosive environment.
"We know that the majority of stars in our galaxy were born in star clusters," said Leslie Looney, who arrived at the solar sibling finding along with his colleagues at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
"Now we also know that the newborn solar system not only arose in such a cluster, but also survived the impact of an exploding star. This suggests that planetary systems are impressively rugged and may be common in even the most tumultuous stellar nurseries."
The evidence for the solar sisters was found in daughters -- such as decayed particles from radioactive isotopes of iron -- trapped in meteorites, which can be studied as fossil remnants of the early solar system.
These daughter species allowed Looney and his colleagues to discern that a supernova with the mass of about 20 suns exploded relatively near the early sun when it formed 4.6 billion years ago; and where there are supernovas or any massive star, you also see hundreds to thousands of sun-like stars, he said.
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“Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
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