The remarkable solar twin HIP 56948: a prime target in the quest for other Earths

Jorge Melendez, Maria Bergemann, Judith G. Cohen, Michael Endl, Amanda I. Karakas, Ivan Ramirez, William D. Cochran, David Yong, Phillip J. MacQueen, Chiaki Kobayashi, Martin Asplund

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We study HIP 56948, the best solar twin known to date, to determine with an unparalleled precision how similar is to the Sun in its physical properties, chemical composition and planet architecture. We explore whether the abundances anomalies may be due to pollution from stellar ejecta or to terrestrial planet formation. We perform a differential abundance analysis (both in LTE and NLTE) using high resolution (R = 100,000) high S/N (600) Keck HIRES spectra of the Sun and HIP 56948. We use precise radial velocity data from the McDonald and Keck observatories to search for planets around this star. We achieve a precision of sigma = 0.003 dex for several elements. Including errors in stellar parameters the total uncertainty is as low as sigma = 0.005 dex (1 %), which is unprecedented in elemental abundance studies. The similarities between HIP 56948 and the Sun are astonishing. HIP 56948 is only 17+/-7 K hotter than the Sun, and log g, [Fe/H] and microturbulence are only +0.02+/-0.02 dex, +0.02+/-0.01 dex and +0.01+/-0.01 km/s higher than solar, respectively. HIP 56948 has a mass of 1.02+/-0.02M_Sun and is 1 Gyr younger than the Sun. Both stars show a chemical abundance pattern that differs from most solar twins. The trend with T_cond in differential abundances (twins - HIP56948) can be reproduced very well by adding 3 M_Earth of a mix of Earth and meteoritic material, to the convection zone of HIP 56948. From our radial velocity monitoring we find no indications of giant planets interior to or within the habitable zone of HIP 56948. We conclude that HIP 56948 is an excellent candidate to host a planetary system like our own, including the possible presence of inner terrestrial planets. Its striking similarity to the Sun and its mature age makes HIP 56948 a prime target in the quest for other Earths and SETI endeavors.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Article numberA29
Number of pages27
JournalAstronomy & Astrophysics
Early online date22 Jun 2012
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2012


  • Sun: abundances
  • stars: abundances
  • stars: fundamental parameters
  • Earth
  • meteorites
  • meteors
  • meteoroids
  • planet-star interactions

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