Lately I have found myself thinking about the question of whether or not our Sun might have a companion. Is the Sun part of a binary or multiple star system? Astronomers have estimated that anywhere from 30% to over 80% of all stars may be members of binary or multiple star systems, so why not the Sun? The classic response is that if there was a “Second Sun,” then we should see it! But the situation may not be so simple.
A stellar companion to our Sun might be very faint, or all together “dark.” It could conceivably be a red dwarf or a brown dwarf —or possibly it could be a small but dense black hole. And there is a rather exotic possibility that I find particularly intriguing—a companion star could be composed of “mirror matter” (also known as “shadow matter” or “Alice matter”; see R. Foot and Z. K. Silagadze, 15 April 2001, “Do mirror planets exist in our solar system?”).
Mirror matter is distinctly not antimatter. Antimatter consists of particles that are virtually identical to ordinary particles but with opposite electrical charges relative to ordinary particles. When antimatter contacts ordinary matter there is mutual annihilation. Mirror matter is identical to ordinary matter except that it is a “mirror image,” at the scale of fundamental particles, of ordinary matter. Matter as we know it is said to be left-handed. As Robert Foot (University of Melbourne) explains it:
“…[what] experiments have conclusively demonstrated is that the known elementary particles behave in a way which is not mirror symmetric. The weak nuclear interaction is the culprit, with the asymmetry being particularly striking for the weakly interacting neutrinos. For example, today we know that neutrinos only spin with one orientation. If one was coming towards you it would be spinning like a left-handed corkscrew. Nobody has ever seen a right-handed neutrino.” (R. Foot, 14 July 2002, “Does mirror matter exist?”, p. 1)
Mirror matter particles interact with each other and form elements and molecules, planets and stars, and other structures, but we as ordinary matter entities are not able to see them. Mirror matter photons, particles of mirror matter light, pass right through ordinary matter without significant interactions, so mirror matter is invisible to us. On a basic chemical level, mirror matter does not interact with normal matter. The primary way it is predicted to interact with ordinary matter is through gravitational attraction. A star composed of mirror matter (invisible to us) could have a planet composed of ordinary matter orbiting around it. Our solar system could have mirror objects in orbit around our Sun—a planet or planets, asteroids, comets, and so forth. Our Sun could be in a binary or multi-star relationship with a mirror matter star or stars.
There are good reasons to suspect that our Sun has a companion. Some researchers believe that there is something odd about our solar system—possibly something is missing. The laws of physics state that in a closed system angular momentum should be conserved. One theory is that our solar system formed from a cloud of gas, dust, and debris (a nebula), which was spinning around its center. As gravity caused the dust and gasses to condense into a proto-star, planets, and other solar system objects, the speed of rotation of the proto-star (our infant Sun) should have increased considerably. The classic example of conservation of angular momentum is that of the ice skater spinning with outstretched arms. As the arms are brought in close to the body, the skater spins faster. Oddly our Sun appears to be missing much of the angular momentum that, based on theoretical predictions, it should have (Walter Cruttenden and Vince Dayes, 2003, “Understanding Precession of the Equinox: Evidence our Sun may be part of a long cycle binary system.”; “R. F.” [pseudonym], 2015, “Speculations on the Sun’s Dark Star Companion, According to Physics”). While the Sun contains more than 99% of the known mass of our solar system, it accounts for less than 4% of the angular momentum (estimates vary).
The Sun’s missing angular momentum has been postulated to exist in, and/or be due to, some “dark” companion star. So far, however, it has not been found. But what if the companion star is composed of mirror matter? Though it may be unseen, the mass of a mirror matter star would exert a gravitational effect on the ordinary matter objects of our solar system. A mirror matter star gravitationally connected to our Sun and solar system might well provide the missing mass and thus missing angular momentum. Our Sun might be gravitationally linked with a mirror matter star such that both the mirror matter star and our Sun orbit around the center of their combined masses (barycenter), meaning our Sun would have significant angular momentum not just in the spin on its axis, but also in its movement along such an orbit—yet we would never “see” the mirror matter companion of our Sun.
As viewed from Earth there is a group of pulsars (rapidly rotating neutron stars) that show anomalous behavior in terms of the “pulses” of electromagnetic radiation they emit. This could be explained if the barycenter of our solar system is being accelerated toward the pulsars in question. The astronomer Edward Harrison (1919-2007) suggested this could occur if our Sun is in a binary system (E. R. Harrison, 1977, Nature, vol. 270, pp. 324-326). However, Harrison voiced the opinion it is “hard to believe that a star so close [to be a companion to our Sun] can exist and remain undiscovered.” But if it is a star composed of mirror matter, then it cannot be “seen” and will be very difficult to detect.
In 1984 paleontologists David M. Raup and J. John Sepkoski, Jr. asserted that they had identified 10 to 12 major extinction events on Earth over the past 250 million years, and these extinction events are separated from one another by time intervals averaging 26 million years (Proceedings, National Academy of Sciences, February 1984). They thought this periodicity might be due to an extraterrestrial cause, such as our solar system passing through the spiral arms of our Milky Way Galaxy, which could increase the number of comets heading toward Earth. Comets crashing to the surface or exploding in the atmosphere would cause major environmental changes leading to extinctions. Certain astronomers quickly suggested that our Sun might have a companion star, linked to the Sun in a highly elliptical orbit, that periodically disturbs the Oort Cloud (a cloud of comets on the outer edge of our solar system) and drives comets into the inner solar system. Astronomers Marc Davis, Piet Hut, and Richard A. Muller suggested the name “Nemesis,” after the Greek goddess who could bring about the downfall of the overly proud or powerful, for this hypothetical “death star” (Nature, 19 April 1984).
For over thirty years the search for Nemesis has been ongoing. The consensus is that it has not been found, and furthermore that it may not exist. But what if Nemesis does exist and is composed of mirror matter? This could explain the failure to find it thus far (Foot and Silagadze, 15 April 2001).
Another important argument for a solar companion involves astronomical precession. “Precession of the equinoxes” is the slow shift of the stars relative to our Sun at certain points, such as the Vernal Equinox, which gives rise to the various zodiacal ages. Thus in our current Age of Pisces the Sun is seen against the backdrop of the constellation Pisces on the date of the Vernal Equinox. Previous to the Age of Pisces was the Age of Aries, and following our current age we will enter the Age of Aquarius (which some people argue has already begun). At the current rate, the precessional cycle would take just under 26,000 years to complete. The zodiacal stars move relative to our Sun about 1 degree every 72 years, and since there are twelve zodiacal constellations covering 360 degrees, the average length of a precessional age is often stated to be 2,160 years (of course some constellations are larger and some smaller, so one can argue that not all precessional ages should be regarded as of the same length).
The standard explanation for precession is that Earth’s spin axis is not only tilted but that it wobbles as well. This wobble means that different stars over the ages are seen at the northern celestial pole and the equinoctial points move along the ecliptic (the apparent path of the Sun against the stars) over time. Walter Cruttenden (Binary Research Institute) has argued that precession is due not to a wobble in Earth’s axis, but instead is a result of our Sun being a member of a binary (or, I would add, possibly a multi-star) system. Observed precession would be due to the movement of our Sun along an orbit around the barycenter of the Sun and a companion star system. As the Sun and our solar system move around this orbit, which according to Cruttenden would take about 24,000 years to complete (if the orbit is elliptical rather than a perfect circle, at times the Sun will move faster along this orbit and at times slower), we on Earth will observe changing background stars behind the Sun on the equinoctial points, thus giving rise to the zodiacal ages.
Reading Cruttenden’s papers (BRI website), he and his colleagues have presented compelling arguments for precession being the result of a stellar companion to the Sun. There is some evidence that it might be Sirius, which oddly does not seem to appreciably alter its location relative to solar equinoctial precession. However, Sirius is about 8.6 light years away, and by Cruttenden’s calculations this is much too distant for a binary companion if our Sun’s orbit around the barycenter is on the order of tens of thousands of years and not millions of years. Possibly our Sun is in a three-star system, with Sirius being the “outermost” star while a closer companion star may be composed of mirror matter, and thus is virtually imperceptible other than due to its gravitational effects.
Cruttenden’s work on precession was inspired by the teachings of Swami Sri Yukteswar (1855-1936) who interpreted the traditional Hindu Yuga Cycle in terms of the Western Precessional Cycle. Yukteswar taught that one full Yuga Cycle takes place in 24,000 years and the zodiacal ages can be correlated with the yugas. Interestingly, Yukteswar believed that our Sun is in a binary system that itself is linked to a third celestial object, which I suspect could be Sirius. Sirius has played a special role in the traditions of many ancient and indigenous cultures, including those of Egypt and the West African Dogon people.
At specific times under particular conditions a mirror matter astronomical object might be visible if certain theories about mirror matter are correct. According to Robert Foot (2002, cited above; see also his 2 March 2001 paper, “Seven (and a half) reasons to believe in Mirror Matter.”), a mirror matter object such as a star, planet, comet, asteroid, meteor, or other entity could conceivably contain embedded within it a small amount of ordinary matter. Mirror matter will pass through ordinary matter, such as our atmosphere, without appreciably interacting (and vice versa). However, a small amount of ordinary matter embedded in a mirror matter object could possibly result in observable interactions (for instance, light given off as the ordinary matter in such an object heats up). Another way that a mirror matter object, even if composed totally of mirror matter, might become observable is due to a phenomenon Foot refers to as a “photon-mirror photon kinetic mixing interaction” (2002, p. 6). This is an interaction predicted at a quantum level that would have the effect that mirror electrons and other charged mirror particles would interact very slightly with their ordinary matter counterparts.
The phenomena discussed in the last paragraph may result in us on Earth becoming very aware of mirror matter objects, even if they are not recognized as such. An example cited by Foot is a space object, such as a meteor, composed of mirror matter colliding with Earth; as the mirror matter passes through the ordinary matter of the atmosphere, interactions between ordinary matter and mirror matter could take place and “This may make the mirror meteoroid effectively visible as it plummets to the surface of our planet” (Foot, 2001, p. 11). It could result in an atmospheric explosion (perhaps close to the surface) that may not leave a crater. No meteorite fragments composed of ordinary matter would be found (or only a few fragments if some ordinary matter was embedded in the mirror matter meteoroid) and any mirror matter fragments would be undetected by ordinary means (exotic techniques for detection of mirror matter have been suggested: R. Foot and S. Mitra, 2003, Physics Letters A, vol. 315). Foot cites the Tunguska event (a huge explosion over Siberia in 1908) as a possible case of an extraterrestrial mirror matter object hitting Earth.
If there is a mirror matter companion star to our Sun, then at times when it comes very close in its orbit to the Sun it may interact slightly with an increased density of ordinary matter and become temporarily visible. Perhaps during certain epochs in ancient times such a solar companion was indeed observable from Earth! There are ancient suggestions that our Sun has a stellar companion. For instance, the god Mithras was associated with, and at times accompanied, Sol/Helios (that is, our Sun) and an ancient plaque (Ai Khanoum, Afghanistan, circa third/second century BCE) dedicated to the mother goddess Cybele depicts the Sun, Moon, and another astronomical object that looks like a “Second Sun.” Our Sun undergoes periodic outbursts, which can have major effects on Earth. A solar outburst ended the last ice age, circa 9700 BCE, and resulted in the demise of early civilization. Are the mutual orbital motions of our Sun and a companion mirror matter star responsible for a grand cycle that causes our Sun to become periodically “disturbed,” resulting in major solar outbursts?
From ancient traditions and beliefs to modern astronomy and physics, there is a compelling case to be made that our Sun may not be alone. It may have a “dark” companion that remains hidden to ordinary sight most of the time, appearing only under exceptional circumstances, such as perhaps when it has a close encounter with our Sun. Yet this companion star may have real and even extreme influences on Earth, from causing mass extinctions to ending the last ice age to affecting the mental abilities of human beings (through induced electrical and geomagnetic effects). The interaction between the Sun’s companion and our solar system may give rise to the classical precessional ages and the Yuga Cycle. The reason why in modern times, I suggest, we have failed thus far to definitively detect the Sun’s companion star is because it is composed of mirror matter.
Robert M. Schoch, Honorary Professor at the Nikola Vaptsarov Naval Academy and a full-time faculty member at Boston University, earned his Ph.D. in geology and geophysics at Yale. Most recent book: Forgotten Civilization: The Role of Solar Outbursts in Our Past and Future (Inner Tradit