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An Exceptionally Low-Mass “Brown Dwarf”

25 Jun 2016, 22:00 UTC
An Exceptionally Low-Mass “Brown Dwarf”
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Free-floating, planetary-mass objects are predicted to be quite common in the galaxy. These objects hide in the darkness between stars and may even outnumber stars themselves. Using data from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) and the Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS), Schneider et al. (2016) present the discovery of a free-floating, planetary-mass object identified as WISEA 1147-2040. This object is located ~100 light years away and it is part of a group of young stars known as the TW Hydrae association. Its membership in the TW Hydrae association means that it is a young object, only ~10 million years old.Observations of WISEA 1147-2040 also provided additionally evidence consistent with its youth. For example, WISEA 1147-2040 is observed to have an unusually dusty atmosphere, and this indicates it has a relatively low surface gravity. A young brown dwarf like WISEA 1147-2040 is still in the process of cooling and contracting to its final radius. As a consequence, it is still somewhat “inflated”, giving rise to its relatively low surface gravity. WISEA 1147-2040 is estimated to be between 5 to 13 times the mass of Jupiter. Furthermore, its effective temperature is predicted to be ~1100 to 1200 K.WISEA 1147-2040 most ...

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