(ORDO NEWS) — Brown dwarfs are unusual cosmic objects that occupy an intermediate position between stars and planets.
Astrophysicists sometimes call them “failed stars” because they do not have enough mass to initiate the thermonuclear combustion of hydrogen in their cores and maintain the steady bright glow that is characteristic of stars.
Scientists cannot agree on the mechanism of formation of brown dwarfs – whether it is similar in general terms to the mechanism for the formation of stars like the Sun, or has fundamental differences.
To resolve this issue, astrophysicists are studying the so-called proto-brown dwarfs. The age of these objects is only about a few thousand years, and they are still in the early stages of formation. Researchers are interested in whether gas and dust are similar in composition,
Special attention is focused on methane, a simple and very stable gas molecule, which, once formed, can then be destroyed only as a result of very high-energy physical processes.
In the new study, for the first time, a team of astronomers led by astrophysicist Basmah Riaz from the University of Munich.
Ludwig and Maximilian, Germany, were able to unambiguously determine the presence of deuterated methane (CH3D) in three proto-brown dwarfs. This was the first unequivocal detection of the CH3D molecule outside the solar system. The result came as a surprise to the researchers.
Proto-brown dwarfs are very cold (less than 10 Kelvin) and dense objects, according to theory, much colder and denser than protostars.
However, the discovery of CH3D challenges this notion, as this gas prefers warmer conditions, forming in the temperature range of about 20 to 30 Kelvin. Measuring the amount of CH3D will allow to determine the amount of ordinary methane, which is not observed in the millimeter range, in which observations were made.
In general, the authors of the work believe that the discovery of deuterated methane in the composition of the matter of three brown dwarfs at once, while in protostars CH3D was detected only once and was not confirmed by indisputable facts, suggests that proto-brown dwarfs are characterized by organic reactions occurring at higher temperatures, and that the study of more complex organic compounds formed under these conditions is of great scientific interest.
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