The Sun’s Evil Twin

It’s just like one of those dramatic stories we used to hear back in the days – two twin brothers got lost in a crowd in their childhood only to be reunited again as adults. Our Sun seems to have a similar story. The only difference is that here we are talking about gigantic stars getting lost in the inter-galactic crowd of outer space!

For a long time, scientists have held a theory that our Sun has an “evil” sibling, nicknamed “Nemesis”, that is quietly lurking somewhere out there in the universe. However, quite recently, we might just have come across some solid evidence that this fabled twin of our Sun is not just a theory but a real antagonist waiting to pounce on our solar system anytime!

Who is this twin?

Nemesis is most likely a red-dwarf star – about 5 times smaller than our Sun, 50 times fainter and red in color (very evil – like a hot red pepper!). Quite recently, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley discovered that every star is born with at least one other companion. Similarly, our Sun also had a red dwarf buddy that split from the binary system and drifted away into space.

Why do we call it evil?

Believe it or not – Nemesis is accused of being responsible for the extinction of dinosaurs! To be more specific, some researchers think that it caused 12 mass extinction events on the Earth! How so?

It is believed that our Sun and Nemesis are still in orbit together. Nemesis occasionally passes through a cloud of asteroids and other icy debris, called the Oort Cloud. As it passes through this cloud of space debris, the evil twin of our Sun hurls asteroids towards our solar system and, inevitably, some of them crash straight onto the Earth.

Some researchers have found out that major extinction events, such as the one that killed the dinosaurs, happen in intervals of 26 million years. The above theory suggests that Nemesis probably passes through the asteroid cloud in the same interval, hurling objects towards the Earth and causing catastrophe.

Should we be scared?

While the existence of an evil twin of our Sun sounds quite terrifying, you should probably not bother much unless you think you might live for a few millions of years . . .


Sources:

Gaia Staff, Gaia.com, “Nemesis Star Theory; Does the Sun Have an Evil Twin?”.

Daisy Dunne, Daily Mail, “‘Nemesis’, the evil twin of the sun accused of causing destruction on Earth, DOES exist”

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