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Hubble Finds Substellar Objects in the Orion Nebula

12 Jan 2018, 20:29 UTC
Hubble Finds Substellar Objects in the Orion Nebula
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In an unprecedented deep survey for small, faint objects in the Orion Nebula, astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have uncovered the largest known population of brown dwarfs sprinkled among newborn stars. Looking in the vicinity of the survey stars, researchers not only found several very-low-mass brown dwarf companions, but also three giant planets. They even found an example of binary planets where two planets orbit each other in the absence of a parent star.Brown dwarfs are a strange class of celestial object that have masses so low that their cores never become hot enough to sustain nuclear fusion, which powers stars. Instead, brown dwarfs cool and fade as they age. Despite their low mass, brown dwarfs provide important clues to understanding how stars and planets form, and may be among the most common objects in our Milky Way galaxy.Located 1,350 light-years away, the Orion Nebula is a relatively nearby laboratory for studying the star formation process across a wide range, from opulent giant stars to diminutive red dwarf stars and elusive, faint brown dwarfs.This survey could only be done with Hubble's exceptional resolution and infrared sensitivity.Because brown dwarfs are colder than stars, astronomers used Hubble to identify them by ...

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