Astronomers Identify Oldest Solar Twin

Posted on August 28, 2013

Sun-like star life cycle

Astronomers have identified the oldest solar twin using ESO's Very Large Telescope. HIP 102152 is located 250 light-years from Earth. The international team led by astronomers from the Brazil say HIP 102152 is more like our Sun than any other star every found. HIP 102152 is located in the constellation of Capricornus (The Sea Goat). This image above tracks the life of a Sun-like star, from its birth on the left side to its evolution into a red giant star on the right.

Astronomers say the only difference between the newfound solar twin and our sun is its age. HIP 102152 is about four billion years older than our sun. HIP 102152 is 8.2 billion years old while our sun in 4.6 billion years old.

Jorge Melendez (Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil), the leader of the team and co-author of the new paper, says in a release, "For decades, astronomers have been searching for solar twins in order to know our own life-giving Sun better. But very few have been found since the first one was discovered in 1997. We have now obtained superb-quality spectra from the VLT and can scrutinise solar twins with extreme precision, to answer the question of whether the Sun is special."

The research was published here in the journal, The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Image: ESO/M. Kornmesser

More from Science Space & Robots