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NASA's Spitzer and Swift space telescopes reveal elusive brown dwarf!

Brown dwarfs are thought to be the missing link between planets and stars, with masses up to 80 times that of Jupiter, NASA said.


NASA's Spitzer and Swift space telescopes reveal elusive brown dwarf!
NASA's Spitzer and Swift space telescopes joined forces to reveal a brown dwarf. Image credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Washington: A unique collaboration between NASA's Spitzer and Swift space telescopes have led to a discovery of a new brown dwarf.

Brown dwarfs are thought to be the missing link between planets and stars, with masses up to 80 times that of Jupiter, NASA said.

This discovery of this brown dwarf, with the unwieldy name OGLE-2015-BLG-1319, was made as the two space-based telescopes teamed up with ground-based observatories to observe a microlensing event caused by a brown dwarf.

Microlensing is an astronomical phenomenon whereby an objects in space, often invisible to the eyes of astronomers, are revealed by the magnification caused by the gravitational field of one or more objects situated between the elusive object and the lens of a telescope, as per a report in UPI.

"We want to understand how brown dwarfs form around stars, and why there is a gap in where they are found relative to their host stars," said Yossi Shvartzvald from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, and lead author of a study published in the Astrophysical Journal.

Spitzer and Swift observed the microlensing event after being tipped off by ground-based microlensing surveys, including the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE).

By combining data from these space-based and ground-based telescopes, researchers determined that the newly discovered brown dwarf is between 30 and 65 Jupiter masses.

They also found that the brown dwarf orbits a K dwarf, a type of star that tends to have about half the mass of the sun.

"In the future, we hope to have more observations of microlensing events from multiple viewing perspectives, allowing us to probe further the characteristics of brown dwarfs and planetary systems," co-author of the study Geoffrey Bryden Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The discovery of the brown dwarf and analysis of the microlensing data have been published in the Astrophysical Journal.

(With IANS inputs)

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