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Brown dwarf

Artist's impression of Schulz's Star (Image: Michael Osadciw/University of Rochester)

An international team of astronomers from the US, Europe, Chile, and South Africa have identified a star system that most likely passed through the outer edge of our solar system at a distance of 0.8 light years some 70,000 years ago. The rogue system, nicknamed Scholz's star, is comprised of a red dwarf with a mass of roughly eight percent of our parent star, while its partner, a brown dwarf, was found to be only six percent as massive as the Sun.  Read More

A massive ring system has been discovered orbiting eclipsing a distant star (Image: Univer...

Astronomers from the Leiden Observatory, Netherlands, and the University of Rochester, New York, have discovered a massive ring system obscuring the light of the young star J1407b. It is believed that the rings belong to a massive planet or possibly a brown dwarf, with an orbital period of roughly 10 years. The giant planet boasts a ring system around 200 times larger than that of Saturn, whose own rings were heavily depleted in the act of creating its many moons.  Read More

WISE J085510.83-071442.5.0 is the coldest brown dwarf yet found (Image: NASA)

We tend to think of stars as being very, very hot, but what about a star that you could use as a deep freeze? Astronomers using NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) and Spitzer Space Telescope have discovered a dim star-like object with the catchy title WISE J085510.83-071442.5.0 that is colder than the North Pole. Lying about 7.2 light years from Earth, it is not only the coldest brown dwarf on record, but the fourth-closest star system to the Solar System.  Read More

Artist's conception of exoplanet PSO J318.5-22, which was discovered floating through inte...

If you think being stuck in a strange town late at night after the last bus has gone is lonely, then give a thought for the exoplanet PSO J318.5-22. Discovered this year by astronomers at the University of Hawaii, this planet was found floating through interstellar space without a parent star and is one of the smallest free-floating objects seen outside of the Solar System.  Read More

Artist's conception of WISE J1049-5319, with the brightly shining Sun 6.5 light years away...

In a day when we have examined astronomical objects shining forth from a time shortly after the Big Bang, one would think astronomers have a pretty good handle on what is in the immediate vicinity of the Solar System. That's why the recent report of a binary star lying only 6.5 light-years away came as rather a surprise to the astronomical community. The pair, called WISE J1049-5319 A and B, are brown dwarf stars and only two star systems – the triple star Alpha Centauri, and Barnard's Star – lie closer to our Sun.  Read More

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