James Webb spots tiniest free-floating brown dwarf we’ve ever discovered – DNyuz

James Webb spots tiniest free-floating brown dwarf we’ve ever discovered

Astronomers have now identified the tiniest brown dwarf, which is believed to be only three to four times the mass of Jupiter. The discovery was made using the James Webb Space Telescope, and it could provide new insight into these planet-like objects that form the same way stars do.

I call them planet-like objects because they aren’t actually stars or planets. In fact, they straddle the line that divides planets and stars. They form similarly to other stars. They do not become dense enough, however, to fall under their own gravitational pull as stars do. The brown dwarfs never become hot enough to fuse hydrogen. This is essential for stars to form.

The discovery of the tiniest brown dwarf we have ever discovered is exciting because many of these objects are comparable to giant planets on the low end of the scale, usually only weighing a few times the mass of Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system.

Astronomers discovered the new tiny brown dwarf while searching for the smallest stars, Kevin Luhamn, lead author of a new study on the object, says. Finding the answer to this question could help us better understand star formation as a whole. Of course, it might also require us to decide whether they are actually stars or planets, too.

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It’s also believed that brown dwarfs could help us better understand exoplanets. The least massive of these objects often overlap with the largest of the exoplanets we discover. This newly discovered brown dwarf has also provided evidence for an unknown molecule of hydrocarbon.

Hydrocarbon molecules like this are believed to contain both hydrogen and carbon atoms and similar signatures were detected in the atmospheres of Saturn and its moon Titan. The gas that exists between stars also contains this substance, raising more research questions.

A full paper on the discovery is featured in The Astronomical Journal and details how the researchers discovered the tiniest brown dwarf we’ve found yet.

The post James Webb spots tiniest free-floating brown dwarf we’ve ever discovered appeared first on BGR.