Cuppa Dwarf

This Week’s OOTW features Budgieye’s OOTD posted on the 1st of April 2011.

Michael Liu, University of Hawaii

Michael Liu, University of Hawaii

These two objects, called CFBDSIR J1458+101 A and B, lurk 75 light years away in the constellation Bootes just below Arcturus; a star marking one of the constellation’s knee. Both objects – called Brown Dwarfs – are locked in orbit with each other, with the distance between them about 2.6 AU or 388, 954, 800 Kilometres.

Brown Dwarfs are often known as ‘failed stars’. They’re objects not much bigger than a gas giant, with the smaller dwarfs weighing in at 13 times the mass of Jupiter and the largest just below 0.08 solar masses; the mass of the smallest main sequence stars. They aren’t planets however, as, unlike planets, they form just like any other star – out of the interstellar medium, but because of their low mass they can never undergo any sustainable fusion.

The object of interest in Budgie’s OOTD is the dimmest object of the pair. With a meagre temperature of 370 K (about 96 Centigrade) it’s as hot as a fresh cup of tea, making it the coolest brown dwarf on record!

The paper on the discovery of this dwarf is here.


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2 responses to “Cuppa Dwarf”

  1. Chris says :

    You say that the orbital distance is approximately 2.6 AU. At these orbital distances, is it possible that planets could orbit either the star or even the brown dwarf? The brown dwarf and star together might affect the planet’s orbit, preventing the proper accruement of matter. Would the brown dwarf swallow the vast majority of matter surrounding the star, preventing the development of planets?

  2. Michael Roberts says :

    @Chris: Gas-giant planet formation would be possible, I would suggest that if the shock heating due to gravitational forces from the companion star is low, then Jupiter-esque gaseous planets could form around a binary system of this nature.

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