Two space telescopes’ lucky perspectives have revealed an unusual brown dwarf that seems to be crowding close to a small star.
When a huge cloud of gas is pulled together by gravity, it can collapse down into a ball. Often, it becomes dense enough that the center bursts into nuclear fusion and that ball becomes a star. If it’s not dense enough, but is close, it will instead become a ball of gas called a brown dwarf. Brown dwarfs can have orbiting systems of planets of their own at times, and they can also orbit stars. But for some reason, researchers rarely find a brown dwarf orbiting within three Earth-sun distances of a sun-mass star. Continue reading Telescope Team-Up Holds Cosmic Lens to Rare Brown Dwarf
Astronomers may have found the first binary planets ever observed beyond our solar system.
The two objects straddle the dividing line between gas giants and odd “failed stars” known as brown dwarfs in terms of mass, researchers said. The newfound bodies are also similar to each other in size and age.
“They’re probably brother and sister,” Daniella Gagliuffi told Space.com. Gagliuffi, a graduate student at the University of California, San Diego, found the objects amid a cloud of stars about 65 light-years from Earth. [Gallery: The Strangest Alien Planets] Continue reading First-Ever Binary Alien Planets Possibly Found
As gravitational wave observatories become more sensitive, we may see the collisions of neutron stars and, possibly, find out what these stellar husks are REALLY made of. We are now in an incredible new era of astronomy where the faint ripples in spacetime caused by distant black hole collisions are being detected and studied. These are the most energetic events in the cosmos and, by “listening in” to their gravitational wave signals, these black hole mergers have finally been directly observed. Continue reading Gravitational Waves to Crack Neutron Star Mystery
Our knowledge of exoplanet science has just advanced by many decades. Long before the first confirmed planetary finds in the 1990s, an observer in 1917 caught evidence of planetary debris around a new star, new research reveals.
The evidence came from an astronomical glass plate from the Carnegie Observatories’ Collection that observed a white dwarf, the core of a star like our sun that has since died and shed its gassy layers. Continue reading 100 Years Ago an Exoplanet was Unknowingly Discovered
An orphan planet free-floating in space more than 100 light-years from Earth may have a parent star after all, though the relationship could hardly be considered close.
New research shows the planet, a massive world 11 to 15 times bigger than Jupiter, may be orbiting its host star about 7,000 times farther away than Earth circles the sun. Continue reading Orphan Planet May Have Estranged Parent Star
Some stars are just born with extremely magnetic personalities. Take TVLM 513-46546 for example. It’s a small M-class red dwarf, a star that belongs to the most populous stellar group in the galaxy. But TVLM 513-46546 would find it hard blending in with the crowd. Continue reading Violent Tiny Star Is a Magnetic Powerhouse