Widest known pair of brown dwarfs discovered

(ORDO NEWS) — A team of astronomers have discovered a rare pair of brown dwarfs, characterized by the largest distance between the components of the system of all currently known binary systems consisting of brown dwarfs.

“Because of the small size of brown dwarfs, their binary systems tend to be very compact,” said Emma Softich, an undergraduate student in the School of Earth and Space Studies at Arizona State University, USA, and lead author of the new study. “Finding such a wide pair was a great success!”

Brown dwarfs are celestial objects that are smaller than normal stars. They are not massive enough to support thermonuclear reactions and glow like normal stars, but they are hot enough to radiate energy.

Many brown dwarfs have been discovered using the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) satellite as part of a project for amateur astronomers called Backyard Worlds: Planet 9, which allows enthusiasts to participate in the processing of the WISE satellite database to detect brown dwarfs and stars of small mass, which are the nearest neighbors of our Sun.

To conduct this study, the project participants studied the images offered by the Backyard Worlds project in order to search for previously unseen brown dwarfs. As a result, a rare binary system CWISE J014611.20 050850.0AB, consisting of brown dwarfs, was discovered.

Softich looked at the approximately 3,000 brown dwarfs seen in the Backyard Worlds imagery one by one and compared the WISE satellite images with those taken by other sky surveys in an attempt to find a brown dwarf companion to the original system. The team then used the Dark Energy Survey to confirm that the source was actually a pair of brown dwarfs.

Then the authors used the NIRES instrument of the Observatory. Keck to use it to determine the spectral types of brown dwarfs. As it turned out, the main component has the spectral type L4, and the second brown dwarf has the spectral type L8.

In addition, these observations showed that the system is located at a distance of about 40 parsecs, or 130.4 light years from the Earth, and the distance between its components is 129 astronomical units, which is equivalent to 129 average distances from the Earth to the Sun.


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