Brown dwarf stars are somewhat of a mystery to scientists because we know so little about them.
They’re significantly cooler than stars like our Sun because they have been unable to spark enough nuclear fusion to burn brightly. As a result, scientists classify these mysterious spatial bodies as the missing link between stars and Jupiter-like planets.
Researchers from the University of Notre Dame have recently unveiled information about a rare brown dwarf star dubbed HD 4747 B not too far away from us, at just 61 light years away. The results have been submitted to the Astrophysics Journal.
Despite it being incredibly difficult to see the brown dwarf, they used a nearby star and its orbit around that star to calculate how far away it was and to track its motion.
“You can infer physical properties of the brown dwarf from its parent star, like age and composition,” John Crepp, a professor of Physics at the University of Notre Dame said.
“There are no other objects for which we know the mass, age and the metallicity simultaneously and also independent of the light that the companion gives off. We can therefore use HD 4747 B as a test-bed to study brown dwarfs, enabling precision astrophysics studies for a directly imaged sub-stellar object.”
They say HD 4747 B has the mass of approximately 60 Jupiters packed into one, which means the brown dwarf is significantly smaller than that of our own Sun.
Now that we have the opportunity to study a rare brown dwarf up close, it provides scientists with the potential to create new theoretical models that could be used in discovering and studying more brown dwarfs throughout the universe. The only trouble is finding them, since they’re so dim and are significantly harder to target than bright stars are.
Source: University of Notre Dame, Phys.org