Does our sun have an “evil” twin?

Does our sun have an “evil” twin?

Richard Muller, a scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory thinks so.

Since astronomers estimate that 60 to 70% of the stars in our Milky Way Galaxy reside in a double star system, it is more likely than not that our sun also has a companion star.

Muller sites that paleontologists have noticed that mass extinctions on earth have occurred regularly every 26 million years, and he hypothesizes that a dim red dwarf star, named “Nemesis”, about 1/10 the mass of the sun disturbs the orbits of the Oort cloud comets as it goes through it in its 26 million year orbit around our sun, hurling thousands of comets per year toward the inner solar system for about one million year span on each orbit. Eventually, one or more of them hits earth causing a mass extinction. He estimates that Nemesis will return in 10 million years. Other evidence includes the discovery of another planet named “Sedna” in 2003 by Michael Brown of Caltech which resides in a region where astronomers think no planet should exist since it is three times farther from the sun than Pluto in a very elliptical orbit. What pulled it out this far?

So what is the average distance of Nemesis’ orbit around our sun? Using Kepler’s third law, (period2 = semi-major axis3), Muller thinks that Nemesis’ average distance from the sun is 1 light year.

Is anyone looking for Nemesis? The answer is yes. NASA is using an orbiting wide field infrared telescope explorer called “WISE” in its hunt for the evil twin. So far, no luck.

However, something is disturbing the Oort Cloud comets right now. Evidence shows that a disproportionate number of comets is coming from one region of our sky now.

George Tanyk

Astronomy Instructor

Author: Bob Mahoney

Physics teacher

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