The sun has siblings out there, and astronomers are looking for them.
Astronomers have studied and collected the "DNA" of more than 340,000 stars in the Milky Way, which will help them understand how galaxies formed and developed
The GALAH Group, a group of Australian and European researchers, has been working on the project since 2013, and on Wednesday they published data for the first time. At the end of the project, they expect to explore more than a million stars.
Each star is analyzed with the HERMES spectrograph attached to a 3.9-meter telescope at the Australian Astronomical Observatory (AAO)] To find out the "DNA" of a star, HERMES analyzes the light to form a spectrum produce similar to a rainbow. Based on the length and position of the dark lines that appear in this spectrum, the researchers can find out the chemical composition.
"Each chemical element in these spectra leaves a unique pattern of dark bands of specific wavelengths, such as fingerprints," Daniel Zucker, of Macquarie University and AAO, explains in an online statement.
It takes about an hour to gather enough light from a star, but GALAH researchers can observe 360 stars simultaneously using fiber optics. Nevertheless, since 201
So how do researchers find out if a star is related to the sun? Well, like the sun, every star was born in a huge group of thousands of stars.
Each of these stars will have the same "DNA" or chemical composition. The Milky Way has pulled these stars apart and left them scattered throughout the galaxy.
"The goal of the GALAH team is to establish DNA matches between stars to find their long-lost sisters and brothers," Sarah Martell of the University's New South Wales School of Physics said in a statement.
While there are a number of ongoing large-scale archaeological studies of our galaxy, GALAH researchers are creating a larger and more comprehensive dataset as part of their survey.
"No other study has been able to measure as many elements for as many stars as GALAH," added Gayandhi De Silva of the University of Sydney and the AAO.
"These data will enable such discoveries as the galaxy's original star clusters, including the Sun's birth cluster and the Sun's siblings, are nowhere else in the world."
The GALAH announcement comes from the massive release of Data from the European space probe Gaia ahead on April 25, to reveal the positions of 1.3 billion stars.