Giant Planets to Brown Dwarfs: What Is in Between?

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Science  17 Jul 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5375, pp. 359-360
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5375.359

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Astronomers have recently discovered several objects that appear to be planets orbiting around distant stars. These "extrasolar planets" could be massive bodies, like the massive planet Jupiter, or they could be dim stars called brown dwarfs. In his Perspective, Santos discusses recent observations of these extrasolar planets and considers the question of what distinguishes giant planets from brown dwarfs. The data indicate a gap between the two types of massive object that has yet to be understood.