The University of Texas at Austin
  • N.Y. Times focuses on McDonald Observatory

    By News Administrator
    Published: Nov. 29, 2007
    N.Y.

    The Greeks believed that the Helios, the sun god who drove a chariot across the sky, had two siblings: Eos, the goddess of the dawn, and Selene, the goddess of the moon. But now astronomers have expanded the family by identifying a “solar twin.” This would be good news except for the name of the twin: HIP 56948. Is this any way to welcome a long-lost sibling into the family? The Greeks would have come up with at least a decent-sounding name, and probably a tale to explain how this twin came to be lost and found. Surely the Lab readers can do at least as well. I hereby offer a copy of “Bullfinch’s Mythology” to the reader who comes up with the best name for the new twin, preferably accompanied by a suitable myth. I imagine this would have the traditional mythological soap-opera elements — godly power struggles, dysfunctional family, sexual jealousy, sibling rivalry, etc. — but I leave it to your imagination. For some background on this new family member, here’s how the McDonald Observatory at the University of Texas describes the discovery of the star with a chemical composition like that of good old Helios: Peruvian astronomers Jorge Melendez of the Australian National University and Ivan Ramirez of the University of Texas at Austin have discovered the best “solar twin” to date, using the 2.7-meter Harlan J. Smith Telescope at McDonald Observatory. Their findings suggest that the Sun’s chemical composition is not unique, as some previously thought. The star, HIP 56948, is more like the Sun than any yet seen, and is 200 light-years away in the constellation Draco, the dragon. The star may be a billion years older than the Sun.

    The New York Times
    Name This Solar Twin and Win a Prize
    (Nov. 14)

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