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95 Nearby Cool Brown Dwarfs Identified

19 Aug 2020, 16:29 UTC
95 Nearby Cool Brown Dwarfs Identified
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The boundary between planet and star is hard enough to pin down without thinking of some recently discovered brown dwarfs that are cool enough to approach Earth temperatures. Yet worlds/stars like these are among the haul assembled by volunteers working data for Backyard Worlds: Planet 9, a citizen science project whose latest findings include 95 cool brown dwarfs in the Sun’s neighborhood, as reported in the Astrophysical Journal.
Despite a determined search, we’ve yet to find such an object closer than the nearest stars at Alpha Centauri. But 23 light years out — the distance of the closest of these brown dwarfs — is definitely close in galactic terms, and most of the brown dwarfs tracked in the new work are between 30 and 60 light years from Earth. That makes sense, for objects like these are faint enough that identifying them at greater range is all but impossible.
The data used in the brown dwarf collection come from a range of observatories including W. M. Keck, Mont Mégantic, Las Campanas, Kitt Peak and Cerro Tololo. Space-based data from WISE (Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer) were also valuable, as were follow-up observations from the Spitzer Space Telescope providing photometric ...

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