Our Sun Is Nothing Special — But That's A Good Thing

One small change to the sun, and life on Earth would look very different.
Our Sun Is Nothing Special — But That's A Good Thing

It turns out, our sun is nothing special. Although it's the only star known to host a habitable planet, some astronomers say our sun is just ordinary.

It's a typical yellow dwarf, or solar-type star — one of many in the universe. According to a new study, the sun's magnetic cycle is similar to that of other nearby solar-type stars.

Some scientists argue our star exhibits certain characteristics that do make it unique. It's more massive and has a slightly different chemical composition than other solar types. And while others like it tend to have multiple stars in their planetary systems, our sun is by itself. Astronomers have found only a few other stars in the universe like ours.

But if the sun is special, some researchers argue Earth-like life might be just as unique. There might still be life or signs of life on other celestial objects, but it would look different from the life we know.

For example, plants on a planet orbiting a dimmer, cooler star than ours would appear darker to our eyes since they would need to soak up more light. And there might be less liquid water on the surface of a planet orbiting a hotter star.

But if the sun is as ordinary as the new study claims, our search for alien life might show us something a bit more familiar.