On the Prowl for Solar Siblings

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X-rays stream off the sun in this first picture of the sun, overlaid on a picture taken by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), taken by NASA's NuSTAR. The field of view covers the west limb of the sun.

X-rays stream off the sun in this first picture of the sun, overlaid on a picture taken by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), taken by NASA's NuSTAR. The field of view covers the west limb of the sun.

Our sun, like so many others, was born as part of a cluster of stars. Sibling stars have the same chemical composition and can be discovered by analysis of each star’s stellar spectrum. The problem? Dynamics of galactic motion have pulled the sibling stars all throughout the galaxy, far from their original positions. A new survey has looked at 340,000 stars to better understand the evolution of our galaxy’s stars. The Galactic Archaeology Survey uses a spectrograph on a telescope in Australia and a specially designed computer code to study the spectra of 340,000 stars in our galaxy.

A new analysis of an asteroid fragment found in the Nubian Desert, Sudan in 2008 reveals inclusions inside tiny diamond crystals. The environment where the inclusions were formed could only be found at the core of either a very large asteroid or a planet somewhere around the size of Mercury or Mars.

The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Telescope (TESS) was launched last week on a two-year mission to search for planets orbiting nearby stars. Kepler searched more distant regions and turned up more than 3,700 confirmed hits. TESS is expected to double that number. The method of discovery is transit – watching for regular periodic brightness changes in stars that might be attributed to orbiting planets.

Venus beautiful in the evening sky now; Jupiter up by midnight. Saturn and Mars hold down the pre-dawn sky but are losing to encroaching sunrise. Get up earlier to see them!

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