Astronomers have recently discovered a new star that is described as the oldest twin to our sun ever discovered. The newly discovered star offers a glimpse at what our Sun will look like four billion years in the future. The newly discovered star is called HIP 102152.
Astronomers say that the newly discovered star is as similar to the sun in its basic characteristics as any other star ever discovered. Our sun is 4.6 billion years old, and HIP 102152 is about 8.2 billion years old. That means the newly discovered star represents our sun in a very different stage of its life.
HIP 102152 is about 250 ly from Earth in the constellation of Capricornus. The star was observed using the European Southern Observatory Very Large Telescope located in Chile. Astronomers have been actively seeking out stars similar to our Sun for decades in order to better understand the lifecycle of our star.
It's exceedingly rare to discover so-called solar twins and only a few have been discovered since 1997 when the first solar twin was found. One thing that the discovery of HIP 102152 has helped scientists to understand is exactly why our sun has so little lithium. Scientists now believe that there is a clear correlation between the age of the star and the lithium content because 102152 has even less lithium than our Sun, despite lithium being one of the most prolific elements in star forming clouds.
"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," TalaWanda Monroe of the Universidade de São Paulo, first author of the paper reporting the discovery, said in a statement.