Astrophysics

A chilly little neighborhood object

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Science  23 May 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6186, pp. 869
DOI: 10.1126/science.344.6186.869-g

There's a chilly little neighbor lurking near the Sun, just ∼7 light years away. Luhman detected the substellar object, a brown dwarf, by tracking the relative motions of objects in infrared images. Unlike the Sun, such low-mass objects cannot sustain the hydrogen fusion necessary to radiate visible light, so they produce energy primarily at thermal wavelengths. The brown dwarf probably has a mass 3 to 10 times that of Jupiter and a temperature near the freezing point on Earth, making it the coldest brown dwarf detected so far. That means astrophysicists will be able to test atmospheric models at new thermal low values.

Astrophys. J. 10.1088/2041-8205/786/2/L18 (2014).

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