Sun just another ‘ordinary’ star, finds study

May 22nd, 2008 - 5:28 pm ICT by admin  


Sydney, May 22 (IANS) The most comprehensive comparison of the sun with other stars has established its ordinariness - and the possibility that life could be common in the universe. Rather than guess what properties a star should have to enable life, the researchers decided to compare the sun - which already hosts a life-bearing planet - to other stars.

“The question ‘how special is the sun’ is easier to address because we do have observations of thousands of other sun-like stars,” noted Charley Lineweaver of Australian National University, co-author of the study.

Added Jose Robles, lead author: “Our research goes further than previous work which only looked at single properties such as mass or iron content.”

“We looked at 11 properties that could plausibly be connected with life and did an analysis of these properties: the upshot is that there doesn’t seem to be anything special about the sun. It seems to be a random star that was blindly pulled out of the bag of all stars.”

The researchers found that the sun’s mass is the most anomalous of its properties; the sun is more massive than 95 percent of stars. Its orbit around the centre of the galaxy is more circular than 93 percent of its peers.

“But when analysing the 11 properties together, the sun shows up as a star selected at random, rather than one selected for some life-enhancing property,” said Robles.

“Those who are searching for justification for their beliefs that terrestrial life and humanity in particular are special will probably interpret this result as a humiliating dethronement,” says Lineweaver.

“Those who believe we are the scum of the universe may find our non-special status uplifting.”

The research paper has been published in the latest issue of the Astrophysical Journal.

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