There are around 50 million sets of human twins in this world of 7.2 billion people. That means that there is a birthrate of twins of about 1 in 3,000 children. This may seem rare, but when you compare the 7.2 billion people to the 1024 planets (10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 planets) in the universe, birthing twins just seems much more probable.
Now, imagine the probability of finding a twin planet. There are no genetics to influence a ‘clone’ of one, so it would be even more astonishingly to find one. Well, as it turns out, scientists at the La Silla Observatory in Chile found what is essentially a twin of one of our planets, as well as a twin of our sun. These twins are so close to us that they’re inside the Milky Way galaxy. The twins of Jupiter and the sun excite astronomers at the possibility of an Earth-like twin out there.
Analysis of the Twins of Jupiter and the Sun
While studying the star classified HIP 11915, researchers found an amazing coincidence: this star is remarkably similar to Sol, the name of or sun and the star that we orbit. In fact, it is so similar that it not only looks like Sol, but is also the same mass and approximately the same age. This coincidence was astonishing enough, but when astronomers found within a planet that looked the same as Jupiter inside HIP’s solar system, they absolutely couldn’t believe it.
This twin of our largest planet is also a large gas giant, looks similar, has a comparable mass, and even shares an orbit that is almost exactly like Jupiter’s. It’s so extraordinary that there are two sets of twins of heavenly bodies in our solar system found in the universe at all, but they’re closer to us than one might think. Jupiter and the sun’s twins aren’t even galaxies away. They’re in our galaxy with us. Such an unthinkable coincidence as twin cosmic bodies–let alone twin cosmic bodies so close together, is remarkable.
Using Jupiter as a Planet Analog
Based almost solely on the fact that there were twins of Jupiter and the sun found so close to our solar system, the probability of finding a planet similar to Earth that could harbor life, or even already have it, skyrockets. Since it’s clear that it is possible for two planets or stars to form in the same way as to create near duplicates, that becomes one question that gets erased from the enormous list about finding alien life.
Megan Bedell of the University of Chicago says, “This discovery is, in every respect, an exciting sign that other solar systems [similar to our own] may be out there waiting to be discovered.”
The Future of a Future Earth
The twins of Jupiter and the sun show us that it isn’t crazy to think that there may be another Earth-like planet out there. And not just similar in size and age, but also in the possibility that it could have an atmosphere and water. This is another great step on the road to finding alien life, and finally confirming that humans aren’t alone in this universe. Granted, it should be mentioned every time alien life is discussed scientifically that it does not imply intelligent life–rather microbial and other microscopic life–but life none the less.