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Brown dwarf `capable of giving birth to planet`

india Updated: Jul 29, 2013 17:10 IST

Brown dwarfs believed to be ‘failed stars,’ by researchers, could have the ability to give birth to planets. Brown dwarfs are believed to be built in a way similar to creation of stars.

However, they are not able to accumulate enough mass to ignite the process of fusion inside their cores.

They also provide an insight as to what helps create a planet and what makes a star.

The brown dwarf can also be called a bridge of sorts, which range from 13 to 80 Jupiter masses, which is way too huge to be considered planets; or just too small to be known as a star; yet they have characteristics of both.

Recently, astronomers found young brown dwarfs, which sported candidate protoplanetary disks, suggesting that they had some planet-building potential, Discovery News reported.

Other brown dwarfs have been found with a large planetary mass in tow. But after experiments, the believed conclusion is that these masses can actually be other, smaller brown dwarfs which are building a binary system.

One brown dwarf, MOA-2007-BLG-192L, hosts a small world that is nearly 3.3 times the Earth’s mass.

However, now a collaboration of international astronomers have found another likely brown dwarf exoplanet.

The Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE) project, which is a 1.3m telescope that is operated at the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile by the University of Warsaw, was monitoring a microlensing event when a brown dwarf came in front of a distant star.

OGLE become aware of an amplified star’s lightcurve and after much analysis and follow up studies by other telescopes, a secondary “bump” in the lightcurve was found.

The researchers found that the ‘relatively tightly-separated (0.87 AU) binary, which consisted of a planetary-mass object with 1.9 (+/-0.2) Jupiter masses orbiting a brown dwarf with a mass of 0.022 solar masses, meaning that the exoplanet almost twice of Jupiter’s mass, was found orbiting its host brown dwarf at a distance a little under the distance Earth orbits the sun.

This research has been submitted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal.