Our sun’s solar twin has given scientists a glimpse of what our sun’s future will be like. The star, called HIP 102152, is a twin of our sun, though it is about 8.2 billion years old.
Since Earth’s star is about 4.6 billion years old, its twin offers a peek at what the sun will be like at a different stage of life. The star has been called a twin because, while it is almost twice our sun’s age, it shares the same basic characteristics.
HIP 102152 is about 250 light-years from Earth, reports NBC News. It is located in the constellation Capricornus and was observed by astronomers using the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile.
The star’s discovery also helped solve a mystery about our sun regarding its lithium content. The sun’s solar twin has less lithium than it, contradicting the current theory that younger stars have less lithium than older ones.
With this in mind, TalaWanda Monroe of the Universidade de São Paulo, explained, “We can now be certain that stars somehow destroy their lithium as they age and that the sun’s lithium content appears to be normal for its age.”
Fox News notes that Monroe went on to explain the importance of the solar twin, saying, “It is important for us to understand our sun in the proper context of stellar astronomy and to identify which of its properties are unique and normal, to predict what its fate may someday be.”
And from what they can tell so far, our sun will definitely be around for another 4 billion years, if not longer. Monroe called HIP 102152 “an ideal star to anchor the end of the timeline” on ways our sun may change in the coming years.
Stars like the sun typically live for about 10 billion years before they run out of the hydrogen fuel for their thermonuclear reactions. After the fuel is gone, they cool and expand into a “red giant.” Along with its characteristics, the solar twin could yield another thing — Earth-like planets. However, attempts to search for orbiting planets have not yet seen success.
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