A complete survey of nearby sunlike stars


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A very long (182 pages) and detailed preprint paper was published today on the Los Alamos astro-ph website, describing the completion of a survey of just about all the sunlike stars within approximately 82 light years of the Earth. I haven’t had time to read the whole thing, but the abstract made these notable points:

  • The study found that more the fifty percent of all sunlike stars are single stars.
  • Among double and triple systems, the bell curve for the orbital periods peaked at 300 years.
  • The more heavy elements the star has (atoms more complex than hydrogen and helium), the more likely it will have planets.
  • The very intriguing conclusion: “The fraction of planet hosts among single, binary, and multiple systems are statistically indistinguishable, suggesting that planets are as likely to form around single stars as they are around components of binary or multiple systems with sufficiently wide separations. This, along with the preference of long orbital periods among stellar systems, increases the space around stars conducive for planet formation, and perhaps life.” [You need to download the full pdf to see this quote in the unabridged abstract.]

In other words, the evidence continues to suggest that solar systems like ours are very common.

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