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A small and unique brown dwarf has been discovered

Scientists in the USA discovered, using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, a small brown dwarf star, 50 Jupiter masses in size. The dwarf orbited a planet along with a sun-like star in an arrangement that astronomers say had never been seen before.

A brown dwarf with a diameter of 50 Jupiter masses. illustration
A brown dwarf with a diameter of 50 Jupiter masses. illustration
Kevin Luchman of the University of Pennsylvania is the lead author of a report describing the discovery of the coldest brown dwarfs, known as T.

Over the past 10 years, astronomers have been remarkably successful in finding planets close to their home stars by using indirect methods, says Luchman, associate professor of astronomy and astrophysics. Thanks to its infrared capabilities, Spitzer is able to detect cold T dwarfs, and possibly large planets, in the outer parts of interstellar systems.

Lochman's team discovered a second, even smaller brown dwarf, weighing 20 Jupiter masses, orbiting another star. The object may be the youngest T dwarf known, giving scientists a glimpse into the early evolution of brown dwarfs. The two T dwarfs are the first to be recorded using a space telescope.

The discoveries will be described in detail in The Astrophysical Journal.

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