Interferometric Identification of a Pre–Brown Dwarf

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Science  06 Jul 2012:
Vol. 337, Issue 6090, pp. 69-72
DOI: 10.1126/science.1222602

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It is not known whether brown dwarfs [stellar-like objects with masses less than the hydrogen-burning limit, 0.075 solar mass (M)] are formed in the same way as solar-type stars or by some other process. Here we report the clear-cut identification of a self-gravitating condensation of gas and dust with a mass in the brown-dwarf regime, made through millimeter interferometric observations. The level of thermal millimeter continuum emission detected from this object indicates a mass ~0.02 to 0.03 M, whereas the small radius, <460 astronomical units, and narrow spectral lines imply a dynamical mass of 0.015 to 0.02 M. The identification of such a pre–brown dwarf core supports models according to which brown dwarfs are formed in the same manner as hydrogen-burning stars.

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