NASA's James Webb Space Telescope discovers a record-breaking tiny Brown Dwarf! Know all about it
In a recent groundbreaking discovery, NASA's James Webb Space Telescope has identified the smallest free-floating brown dwarf ever observed.
James Webb Space Telescope run by NASA has helped scientists discover various mysteries of the cosmic world going as far back in time that is extremely close to the Big Bang itself. In a recent groundbreaking discovery, James Webb Space Telescope has identified the smallest free-floating brown dwarf ever observed. NASA scientists have found this smallest object that can form in a star-like manner. Read here to know all about the newly discovered brown dwarf.
What are brown dwarfs?
As explained by NASA, Brown dwarfs are celestial objects straddling the line between stars and planets. They are born just like stars. They grow dense enough and then they collapse under their own gravity. However, they never become dense and hot enough for hydrogen fusion and turn into a star.
Lead author Kevin Luhman and colleague Catarina Alves de Oliveira, from Pennsylvania State University, pinpointed this record-breaking brown dwarf within the young star cluster IC 348. It is located 1,000 light-years away in the Perseus star-forming region. The scientists utilized Webb's advanced technology, specifically the Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) to identify brown dwarf candidates from their brightness and colors, imaging the centre of the cluster. They also used Webb's NIRSpec (Near-Infrared Spectrograph) micro shutter array to study the most promising targets
James Webb Telescope's infrared sensitivity played a pivotal role. It enabled NASA scientists to detect fainter objects compared to ground-based telescopes. The telescope's sharp vision allowed the team to distinguish between pinpoint brown dwarfs and blobby background galaxies among red objects. Through this process, three intriguing targets emerged, weighing between three to eight Jupiter masses, with surface temperatures spanning 1,500 to 2,800 degrees Fahrenheit (830 to 1,500 degrees Celsius). Notably, the smallest among them, with a weight of three to four times that of Jupiter, according to computer models
Tiny brown dwarfs not only provide insights into the star-formation process but also can contribute to our understanding of exoplanets. The smallest brown dwarfs share similarities with the largest exoplanets, offering valuable clues. Unlike giant exoplanets concealed by their host stars' glare, free-floating brown dwarfs are more accessible for study.
Are these brown dwarfs or something else?
The nature of these objects, situated comfortably within the mass range of giant planets, prompts the question of whether they are brown dwarfs or rogue planets ejected from planetary systems. While the possibility of them being ejected planets is not entirely ruled out, the prevailing argument suggests a higher likelihood of them being brown dwarfs.
Future endeavors may involve more extensive surveys capable of detecting fainter, smaller objects. The initial survey, conducted by the team, aimed to identify objects as small as twice the mass of Jupiter. Longer surveys hold the potential to extend this reach to one Jupiter mass.
The James Webb Space Telescope is actively unraveling mysteries within our solar system, exploring distant worlds around other stars, and delving into the enigmatic structures and origins of our universe. Led by NASA in collaboration with ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency, the James Webb Space Telescope stands as a testament to international scientific collaboration.