Sun’s Evil Twin That Spoils Our Life
Let’s face it: as stars go, our Sun is actually, well ... pretty boring. C’mon, there’s nothing unusual about it. There are millions of similar yellow dwarfs in the universe. And yet we love it. After all, it’s the only star we have, and it gives us life. However... it wasn’t always like that. Once upon a time, the Sun had a twin... possibly an evil one! What happened to it? Well, let’s find out. This here is a giant molecular cloud. They’re also sometimes called dark nebulae. Here, there are many interstellar clumps full of gas, dust, and piles of stars. These clouds have no clear boundaries and often take weird crazy forms. You can even see some of them with the naked eye. Look at the clear sky at night — they look like dark spots all across the bright Milky Way.
And this is exactly where our Sun was born about 4.5 billion years ago.
The Sun originated from one of these molecular clouds. Billions of years ago, waves of energy were passing by here. They collected all this material and compressed these clumps into dense nuclei. That’s when a protostar was born. This young protostar was a ball of lukewarm hydrogen and helium. And then, millions of years later... The temperature and pressure inside the balls increased. As a result, a star was born. The Sun. But not everything in this molecular cloud has turned into the Sun. The remaining materials began to revolve around the new star. And, as you might’ve guessed, they gradually turned into planets. Including our Earth! This is how our Solar system was created. But it’s quite possible that this is not the whole story... And that at the same time, along with our star, another one was born. The lost twin of the Sun. Made from the same materials under the same conditions. But why do we think that it exists?
Recently, scientists have launched some statistical models to find out more about the birth of stars.
And these models have shown that many stars appear not individually but in clusters! Or with at least one sibling. After more research, scientists confirmed that, yep, most stars formed inside molecular clouds are born with a companion. Sometimes these companions stay together: for example, a small star will revolve around a large one. They can even form double, triple, and other star systems... And sometimes, their paths may diverge. Forever. This probably happened to our Sun as well. It could’ve had a sibling, too. Perhaps not even one, but a whole cluster of little brothers and sisters... And one bigger twin with a similar mass and other characteristics. But if that’s the case... Then where are you, our lost twin?
Well... We have one hypothesis.
And, according to it, this twin may not be as good as it seems. In the 1980s, scientists began to notice a certain pattern in the Earth’s history. Approximately every 27 million years, give or take, large-scale extinctions occurred on our planet. Pretty strange, right? Every 27 million years in the history of Earth, some kind of catastrophe occurred that changed its biosphere forever. As if something, as scheduled, cyclically... caused them. Then an astronomer Richard Muller suggested that there may be something that caused these events. A certain... celestial body. According to him, it could be a dwarf star that we can’t see because of how dim it is. It could be located about 1.5 light-years away from us. This star rotates around the Sun in a HUGE orbit, and it approximately takes a whopping 27 million years for it to finish its orbit!
And when it gets the closest to the Sun, it starts to cause complete chaos.
While approaching us, this troublemaker changes the trajectories of comets in the Oort cloud or the Kuiper Belt. As a result, all these comets start to rush straight toward us. Then they crash into the Earth and cause mass extinctions — just like it was with dinosaurs. This hypothetical star was named Nemesis. It’s the name of the ancient Greek deity of retribution. What is it taking revenge on us for? No idea. Perhaps it didn’t like the fact that once upon a time the Sun took away almost all the dust and gas from a molecular cloud. The Sun became a fairly large star, but the twin remained dark and small. Moreover, in the end, it was forced to fly away in the middle of nowhere! Anyone would be annoyed by something like this.
Scientists have put forward various hypotheses about what the mysterious Nemesis is.
Perhaps it’s a brown or red dwarf? The remnants of a star that has completely depleted its fuel? Or maybe it’s not a star at all, but a rogue planet more gigantic than Jupiter? Whatever it is, its existence isn’t particularly pleasant for us. However, all our attempts to find the culprit, unfortunately, failed. At the moment, we still haven’t found any signs of Nemesis. Recent studies have called into question the theory of “regular mass extinctions”. If you look more into fossil records, you’ll notice that these catastrophes occurred rather... randomly, rather than on a clear schedule. Now scientists doubt if Nemesis may actually exist. They also say that any star moving in a similar orbit would be very unstable. And it’s very unlikely that it could’ve survived for THAT long.
But, despite the lack of clear evidence, Nemesis has become quite famous online.
Many articles and news still mention it in different contexts. They like to write off any dramatic events taking place in the world (like asteroid falls, tsunamis, and so on) on this mysterious star. So now all this may seem like a typical urban legend... But let’s not forget about something important! Even if Nemesis itself doesn’t exist, it doesn’t mean that the Sun didn’t have a twin. First of all, everything we talked about at the beginning is still relevant. Most stars aren’t born alone. The probability that our Sun also had a sibling is still very high. Secondly, there MAY be evidence of the existence of this lost twin. And it’s probably somewhere in the Oort cloud. This is a huge cloud in the outer limits of our Solar system. It consists of a bunch of comets and other cool rocks. Now, scientists believe that this cloud stores various remnants and fragments of everything that remained after the birth of our Solar System. It’s like a huge museum of our past.
So, in this Oort cloud, scientists have noticed something... interesting.
Basically, this region seems to be... “too heavy”. What the Oort cloud actually looks like doesn’t correspond to our current models of the formation of the Solar System. It’s too heavy because there are some remnants of... something in it. So there used to be something in the Solar System that we don’t know about yet. But when scientists included a possible “second Sun” in their calculations, it fit just right! Like a missing piece of a puzzle, the lost twin perfectly matches the gap in the weight of the Oort cloud. So yeah. The Sun almost certainly had a twin. But... what happened to it? And where is it now? Unfortunately, this star is most likely already very far away. Probably, after their birth, the Sun and... Daughter — okay, Sun 2.0 spent only a couple of million years together. And then they had to separate completely...
Now this second twin may be hundreds of light years away from us. It can be anywhere in the Milky Way.
And yeah, theoretically, we could find it... But that would be quite difficult. To do this, we need to find all the stars similar to our Sun, about the same age... ALL OVER the Milky Way. And even if we make a list of these stars — what’s next? We have no way of knowing which one was really the twin of the Sun. So the lost twin will most likely remain lost. And our Sun will remain forever lonely. What a sad story.
But cheer up! For us, it’s probably for the best. If we had two suns, perhaps the Solar System would never have become what it is now. Our planet might not exist at all. And that means that there might be no life. So we probably should be grateful for Sun’s sacrifice. On the other hand, our sunsets would look like the ones they have on Tatooine! Cool.