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Uncovering Nearby Brown Dwarfs

30 Aug 2013, 16:52 UTC
Uncovering Nearby Brown Dwarfs
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The shift in all-sky surveys to longer wavelengths, from the optical, to the near-infrared and mid-infrared, have led to significant progress in the discovery of brown dwarfs with ever cooler temperatures. Brown dwarfs fall in four spectral classes (M, L, T and Y) with spectral class Y being the coolest. Since brown dwarfs cool as they age, the majority of brown dwarfs in the Sun’s neighbourhood with typical ages of several billion years are observed to fall under the T-type and Y-type spectral classes.Artist’s rendition of a T6.5-type spectral class brown dwarf called 2MASSJ22282889-431026. Credit: NASA/JPL-CaltechNevertheless, a complete census of brown dwarfs in the Sun’s neighbourhood is far from complete. Kirkpatrick et al. (2012) found that there are currently about six times more stars than brown dwarfs within 8 pc of the Sun. The known proportion of brown dwarfs to stars is expected to increase with time as new discoveries are catalogued. In fact, the discovery of a pair of brown dwarfs located at just 2 pc from the Sun by Luhman (2013) shows that such an expectation is justifiable.A recent search by Bihain et al. (2013) using data collected by NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) discovered 3 new ...

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