'DNA' survey could help track down sun's siblings

A space survey known as GALAH could help scientists find the sun's star siblings out in the distance cosmos.
By Joseph Scalise | Dec 04, 2018
An international team of astronomers have found the "DNA" of over 340,000 stars in the Milky Way, a discovery that could help scientists locate the sun's long-lost siblings.

This new finding comes from an Galactic Archaeology survey known as GALAH, which aims to investigate over a million stars in order to uncover the formation and evolution of different galaxies throughout the universe.

The "DNA" collected in the study traces the ancestry of different stars. That then shows how the universe moved from only hydrogen and helium to the various elements needed for life.

"No other survey has been able to measure as many elements for as many stars as GALAH," explained Dr Gayandhi De Silva, a researcher at the University of Sydney, according to Phys.org."This data will enable such discoveries as the original star clusters of the Galaxy, including the Sun's birth cluster and solar siblings - there is no other dataset like this ever collected anywhere else in the world."

While the sun is on its own, it, like all stars, came from a cluster. Every single star in the group has the same chemical composition -- the "DNA" analyzed in the research -- but they were pulled apart by the Milky Way and are now scattered throughout the cosmos.

The team hopes to be able to locate the stars from the sun's cluster by matching the makeup of distant stars. To do that, the team uses a technique known as spectroscopy to see how many chemical elements each body has.

The GALAH team spent over 280 nights since 2014 to gather their current data, which was revealed in the survey's first major public data release. They needed that much time because it is not easy to collect the chemical makeup of so many stars.

The data dump comes right before a planned release of data gathered by the European Gaia satellite. Both sets of information will likely give the positions and distances of numerous stars, as well as their motions within the galaxy. In that way, it could be the first time scientists have a larger understanding of the large burning bodies.

"No other survey has been able to measure as many elements for as many stars as GALAH," said Gayandhi De Silva, a research astronomer with AAO and the HERMES instrument scientist overseeing GALAH's collaborators, according to Live Science. "This data will enable such discoveries as the original star clusters of the galaxy, including the sun's birth cluster and solar siblings."

The new research is outlined in two studies set to be released in theMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical SocietyandAstronomy and Astrophysics.

---

Comments
We are dedicated to maintaining a respectful community that actively engages in lively discussions about news stories and blog posts. Please keep the following in mind when writing your comments.