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Space Science

Do 'Ultracool' Brown Dwarfs Surround Us? 224

astroengine writes "The recent discovery of two very cool 'T-class' brown dwarfs in our cosmic neighborhood has prompted speculation that there may be many more ultracool 'failed stars' nearby (abstract). Not only are these objects themselves very interesting to study, should there be many such brown dwarfs spanning interstellar space. Perhaps they could be used as 'stepping stones' to the stars."
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Do 'Ultracool' Brown Dwarfs Surround Us?

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  • Yes there are (Score:3, Informative)

    by Cable ( 99315 ) on Monday July 18, 2011 @10:27AM (#36799756) Homepage

    In order to have elements beyond carbon one needs a bigger star than our yellow sun. Large stars tend to supernova and become brown dwarfs or black holes in some cases. Some stars fail and become brown dwarfs as well. But you can still get hydrogen from them from solar winds for spacecraft.

    It is hard to detect them because the brown dwarfs are Earth size and do not give off much heat or light. Our sun Sol is supposed to have a companion star nearby called Nemesis that is a brown dwarf and throws asteroids at our solar system.

  • by ledow ( 319597 ) on Monday July 18, 2011 @10:29AM (#36799774) Homepage

    Tut! Oh God! Why didn't we think of this! It's so obvious! That's where all our research money has gone to waste, assuming that we are omnipotent in our calculations and not including error ranges!

    Hell, let's just assume that that 83% (or thereabouts) of all matter in the universe being "missing" is just us overlooking that there might be planets on every star (and the fact that the biggest planet in our own Solar System weighs less than 0.1% that of the Sun).

    God, it's so obvious. Why did we never take this into account in any of our billion-dollar-funded research programs filled with (quite literally) rocket-scientists?

    Or maybe we did, you pillock...

  • Re:Yes there are (Score:5, Informative)

    by scharkalvin ( 72228 ) on Monday July 18, 2011 @10:42AM (#36799926) Homepage

    Large stars will never become brown dwarfs. They will end up as one of the following:
    White dwarf, neutron star, or black hole. A white dwarf will eventually cool and become a black dwarf. The chemical composition of a white dwarf is NOTHING like that of a brown dwarf. A brown dwarf is hydrogen and a few other elements. A white dwarf has very little hydrogen, it is the 'ash' of a star that once was and is made of mostly heavier elements that are the result of fusion.

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