SEP 20, 2016 10:28 AM PDT

There Are Probably Several Brown Dwarfs in Our Solar Neighborhood

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
OCT 21, 2018
Space & Astronomy
OCT 21, 2018
Classifying Oumuamua Proves More Challenging Than Initially Thought
It was almost one full year ago that an unforeseen interstellar object whizzed through the solar system. Immediately after the epic event, curious astronom...
NOV 14, 2018
Space & Astronomy
NOV 14, 2018
Barnard's Star May Host an Exoplanet After All...
At six light-years away from Earth, Barnard’s Star holds the title of the second-closest stellar neighbor to our solar system. Astronomers have long...
NOV 18, 2018
Space & Astronomy
NOV 18, 2018
International Space Station Receives Fresh Supplies From Back-to-Back Rocket Launches
Both the United States and Russian space agencies share the burden of sending fresh food, fuel, and supplies to the International Space Station every few m...
DEC 11, 2018
Space & Astronomy
DEC 11, 2018
ISS Crew Members Perform Spacewalk to Investigate Mystery Hole
The International Space Station became a favorite topic of discussion four months ago after a two-millimeter diameter hole was discovered in the orbital co...
DEC 30, 2018
Space & Astronomy
DEC 30, 2018
Everything NASA's InSight Lander Has Accomplished Since Landing on Mars
It’s only been about a month since NASA’s InSight lander touched down on the Martian surface, but it has already accomplished a plethora of pre...
JAN 14, 2019
Space & Astronomy
JAN 14, 2019
Will the X3 Ion Thruster Revolutionize Space Travel?
Chemical burn rockets can produce a lot of thrust, but only for a short period; this makes them ideal for lofting space vehicles out of Earth’s atmos...
Loading Comments...