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Astronomers Discover the Widest Separation of Brown Dwarf Pairs Ever

CWISE J0146-0508AB WISE (left) and Dark Energy Survey Collaboration (DES) (right) images. In a low resolution WISE image, the pair is blended into a single point source, while in a high resolution DES image you will see two different entities. The reddish hues of both objects in the DES image indicate that they emit a lot of light with infrared light, which is a characteristic characteristic of brown dwarfs. Credits: WISE / DES / Softich et al

A team of astronomers have discovered a rare pair of brown dwarfs that has the widest separation of any brown dwarf binary system ever found.


“Because of the small size of the brown dwarf system, they are usually very close together,” said Arizona State University (ASU), an undergraduate student in astrophysics and lead author of the study. Emma Softich says. “Finding such a wide distant pair is very exciting.”

The wide brown dwarf binaries are more likely to collapse over time, as the gravity between pairs of brown dwarfs is lower than that of pairs of stars at the same spacing, making this pair of brown dwarfs an exceptional discovery. Become.

This study is based on observations made by the University of California, San Diego (UC San Diego) Cool Star Labs at the WM Keck Observatory in Mauna Kea, Hawaii, and is published in today’s issue. Astrophysical Journal Letter..

Using the Keck Observatory’s near-infrared Echelet spectrometer, or NIRES equipment, members of the UC San Diego Coolstar Lab, including professor of physics Adam Bergasser and graduate students Christian Aganze and Dinosou, have a brown dwarf infrared spectrum. I got Binary system, CWISEJ014611.20-050850.0AB. The data show that the two brown dwarfs are about 12 billion miles apart, which is three times the distance between Pluto and the Sun. This distance confirms that a couple of rare brown dwarfs break the record of having the widest separation from each other.

“The extraordinary sensitivity of Keck in the infrared using this device was very important to our measurements,” said Burgasser, co-author of Cool Star Lab. “The secondary brown dwarfs in this system are very dark, but enough spectral data to use Keck to classify both sources and identify them as members of a rare class of blue L-dwarfs. I was able to get. “

“The fact that this has survived is quite noteworthy, as large, low-mass systems like the CWISE J014611.20-050850.0AB are usually destroyed early in life,” said the United States Naval Observatory. Co-author Adam Schneider said. , Flagstaff Station and George Mason University.

Brown dwarfs are smaller objects than normal stars. These objects are not large enough to maintain fusion and shine like normal stars, but they are hot enough to radiate energy.

Astronomers Discover the Widest Separation of Brown Dwarf Pairs Ever

Representation by an artist of a brown dwarf binary system such as CWISEJ014611.20-050850.0AB. Credit: William Pendrill

Many of the brown dwarfs were discovered through the Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 Citizen Science Project using data from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Explorer (WISE). Mass stars, some of the sun’s closest neighbors.

For this study, researchers examined images of the discovery of the Backyard World, where the companion brown dwarf may have been overlooked. In doing so, they discovered the unusual CWISE J014611.20050850.0AB brown dwarf binary system.

Softich examined about 3,000 brown dwarfs from Backyard Worlds one by one and compared WISE images with other survey images to look for evidence of a brown dwarf companion to the original target. The team then used Dark Energy Survey (DES) data to confirm that it was actually a pair of brown dwarfs.

Next, using NIRES at Keck Observatory, we confirmed that the brown dwarf has a spectral type of L4 and L8, and an estimated distance of about 40. ParsecOr 130.4 light-years from Earth, 129 AU, or 129 times the distance between the Sun and the Earth.

The team hopes that this discovery will give astronomers the opportunity to study brown dwarf binary systems and develop models and procedures that will help them recognize many of them in the future.

“The binary system is used to calibrate many relationships in astronomy, and this newly discovered pair is Brown dwarf It will present an important test of the model of brown dwarf formation and evolution. ”


A team of astronomers has discovered the widest separation of pairs of brown dwarfs so far.


For more information:
Emma Softich et al, CWISE J014611.20–050850.0AB: The most widely known brown dwarf binary in the field, Astrophysical Journal Letter (2022). DOI: 10.3847 / 2041-8213 / ac51d8

Quote: Astronomers are the widest brown dwarf pair ever obtained from https: //phys.org/news/2022-02-astronomers-widest-brown-dwarf-pair.html on February 17, 2022. Discovered separation (February 17, 2022)

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Astronomers Discover the Widest Separation of Brown Dwarf Pairs Ever

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