SEP 20, 2016 10:28 AM PDT

There Are Probably Several Brown Dwarfs in Our Solar Neighborhood

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Looking all around in interstellar space surrounding our solar system, scientists are finding more evidence of brown dwarfs than ever before.
 

An artist's impression of a brown dwarf in space.

 Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Brown dwarfs are incredibly hard to find because they’re very dim. They’re smaller than stars, but they’re larger than giant gas planets, and that’s just about all they have going for them that helps scientists to find them because they tend to block other light sources.
 
Nevertheless, they’re important to learn more about, because since they aren’t technically stars or planets, they’re kind of the gray area in between. From a certain point of view, they can be considered a “failed star,” because they don’t have what it takes to sustain hydrogen fusion due to their size. As a result, they dim and cool over time.
 
In many ways, brown dwarfs are very similar to giant Jupiter-like planets, but since they’re a little bit different, it’s important to understand the distinction and learn more about how they’re made and how they evolve.
 
What we know so far is because brown dwarfs aren’t very good at sustaining the hydrogen fusion process, their temperatures vary. Some can be almost at hot as a full-blown star, while others can be just as cold as a planet. These temperature fluctuations test the fine line between gassy Jupiter-like planets, but they’re simply too big to be categorized as such.
 
A new study published in The Astrophysical Journal reveals that there are probably many more of these brown dwarfs in our solar neighborhood than we ever would have thought, and it opens the door for research.
 
“Everyone will benefit from the study of brown dwarfs, because they can often be found in isolation, which means that we can more easily gather precise data on their properties without a bright star blinding our instruments," said study co-author Jonathan Gagné from the Université de Montréal.
 
Since they’re typically isolated, studying them after the challenging hunt to find them can be very rewarding because there’s hardly anything to get in the way them.
 
As a part of the study, at least 165 separate brown dwarfs were identified while observing about 28% of the sky. All of them are within 160 light years away from our Sun. With only 28% of the sky surveyed, there is still plenty more to be picked through with a fine-tooth comb, so there are undoubtedly several more out there that haven’t been spotted yet.
 
Finding all of these brown dwarfs is a key aspect of finding and learning about all of the unseen mass in our universe.
 


Source: Carnegie via Phys.org

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
DEC 20, 2019
Chemistry & Physics
DEC 20, 2019
Physics Breakthroughs in 2019
The Physics World magazine is an iconic publication in the scientific community. This month, its editorial team selected the top 10 Breakthroughs for...
JAN 05, 2020
Space & Astronomy
JAN 05, 2020
It's Finally the Year of the Mars 2020 Mission
It’s officially 2020, and with that in mind, anyone paying attention to NASA’s launch schedule should know already that the Mars 2020 rover is...
FEB 02, 2020
Space & Astronomy
FEB 02, 2020
Everything You Need to Know About Solar Orbiter
The Sun is something you see every day when you look up at the daytime sky, but despite residing right in plain sight, there’s still so much about th...
FEB 11, 2020
Space & Astronomy
FEB 11, 2020
Why China Was Banned from the International Space Station
The International Space Station is just that – a place where international space agencies can work together in an effort to accomplish similar goals:...
MAR 15, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAR 15, 2020
This Exoplanet Rains... Iron!?
Many of us take the Earth and its many ‘normal’ characteristics for granted, but there are so many exoplanets in the universe around us with th...
MAR 16, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAR 16, 2020
What Would it Take to Visit Alpha Centauri?
Humankind has long pondered upon the ambition of becoming a multiplanetary species. While much of our realistic focus resides right here in our own solar s...
Loading Comments...