Research NewsAstronomy

Found: A Star Too Small to Shine

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Science  01 Dec 1995:
Vol. 270, Issue 5241, pp. 1435-1436
DOI: 10.1126/science.270.5241.1435


When a star forms with a mass of less than about 80 Jupiters, its nuclear furnaces shouldn't ignite at all or should quickly flicker out. But reports of these brown dwarfs, which give off only a faint red glow as they collapse under gravity, have been controversial. Now the detection of methane—a gas that could never survive in a full-fledged star—in a brown dwarf candidate confirms that it is the real thing.