Letters

Brown Dwarf Origins

Science  12 Feb 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5404, pp. 937e
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5404.937e

In Alexander Hellemans's article “Binaries answer riddle of brown dwarf origins” (News of the Week, 13 Nov. p. 1240), I am quoted as saying that the G 196-3 binary system consisting of an M-type star and a brown dwarf is “too young…for the dwarf to have formed from an accretion disk, like a planet” and that, “[b]ecause the brown dwarf is so far away from the star, fragmentation of a molecular cloud is the most likely scenario for its formation.”

I would like to clarify that what I meant was that the evidence collected by Rafael Rebolo et al. (Reports, 13 Nov. p. 1309) on G 196-3 and by E. L. Martin et al. on CFHT-Pl-18 (1), a binary consisting of two brown dwarfs, indicates that brown dwarf binary companions (to normal stars or brown dwarfs) are more likely to form by fragmentation than in an accretion disk. In particular, the brown dwarf binary companions in CFHT-Pl-18 most certainly formed by fragmentation, simply because a brown dwarf is unlikely to have an accretion disk sufficiently massive to form an object as massive as another brown dwarf.

References

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