A team of astronomers has unveiled 165 very cold new brown dwarfs 160 light-years away from our Sun. The paper rolling out these results is published in the Astrophysical Journal
For those who do not know, brown dwarfs are space objects that are too big for a gas giant and too small for a miniature star. They are also cool and dim, which make them very hard to detect. They are also called ‘failed’ stars, they do not have the appropriate size to contain hydrogen fusion reactions within their cores, other than that, they have similar attributes as shining stars. To scale, they have masses between 13 to 80 Jupiters and have planet-like characteristics too. Temperatures range from hot star to planet.
Finding new brown dwarfs help astronomers better quantify how often they occur both in our solar neighborhood and what’s beyond. Knowing about the abundance of these space objects will provide vital information about the Universe’s distribution of mass. Also, it will clarify if brown dwarfs were formed due to isolation or chunked out from a larger system.
Dr. Jasmin Robert of Université de Montréal together with his Canadian and American colleagues sided that although ultracool brown dwarfs have been discovered by the hundreds, the methods used to recognize them were overlooking those with unusual compositions, which do not show up in color-based surveys that are generally used.
The scientists charted 28% of the sky and revealed 165 ultra cool brown dwarfs - M, L and T types, bearing temperatures right under 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit (1,930 Celsius) within our solar neighborhood.
“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 team member Dr. Jonathan Gagné, from the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington and the Institute for Research on Exoplanets at the Université de Montréal.
“The search for ultracool brown dwarfs in the neighborhood of our own Solar System is far from over,” he said.
“Our findings indicate that many more are hiding in existing surveys.”