. 24/7 Space News .
Astronomers pinpoint rare binary brown dwarf
by Staff Writers
Birmingham UK (SPX) Mar 10, 2020

The Illustration is an artist view of one of the SPECULOOS telescopes, with the eclipsing binary brown dwarf in the sky. The third red dot, is a third nearby brown dwarf, which is also part of the same system. The book on the side shows the data that led to the discovery. On the left page is the eclipse captured by SPECULOOS while the right page shows the data from Keck and the VLT.

Astronomers working on 'first light' results from a newly commissioned telescope in Chile made a chance discovery that led to the identification of a rare eclipsing binary brown dwarf system.

The discovery, published in Nature Astronomy, was led by an international team of researchers, including scientists at the University of Birmingham, working on the SPECULOOS (Search for habitable Planets EClipsing ULtra-cOOl Stars) project. SPECULOOS involves the University of Birmingham in collaboration with the University of Liege, the University of Cambridge, the University of Bern, the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canaries, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and other partner institutions.

SPECULOOS' mission is to investigate planets surrounding ultra-cool dwarfs, a category that includes the smallest stars that exist, as well as objects called 'brown dwarfs'. Brown dwarfs are 'sub-stellar' objects, meaning they have less mass than a star but more than a planet. Brown dwarfs are unable to sustain the fusion of hydrogen into helium, a process that powers the light from normal stars like the Sun.

Astronomers predict that these ultra-cool dwarfs should host large populations of close-by, potentially habitable rocky planets, offering a wealth of opportunity to explore a diversity of atmospheres and climates. An example is the 7-planet system TRAPPIST-1, which was discovered by members of the same team.

Soon after the construction the first SPECULOOS telescopes, and during testing observations, the team targeted the known brown dwarf 2MASSW J1510478-281817, since renamed 2M1510, in the constellation Libra. The SPECULOOS observations picked up a distinct signal that led the researchers to speculate that 2M1510 might be two brown dwarfs instead of one, in orbit around each other.

Dr Michael Gillon, Principal Investigator of the SPECULOOS project, said: "Among the first test observations we performed, we turned one of our telescopes to a known brown dwarf. But suddenly the object appeared to get dimmer for about 90 minutes, which indicated an eclipse just took place."

Artem Burdanov, a postdoctoral researcher at MIT added: "We rapidly realised that we were probably looking at two eclipsing brown dwarfs, one passing in front of the other, a configuration which is much rarer than planetary systems."

The researchers were able to confirm their hypothesis using two more powerful telescopes, the 10m Keck Telescope in Hawaii, and the 8m Very Large Telescope in Chile. The VLT is based at the same site as the SPECULOOS telescopes used to make the observations. Keck and VLT have sensitive spectrometers that can be used to measure the velocities of celestial objects. In the case of 2M1510, the astronomers detected the velocities of both brown dwarfs as they orbit one another.

"From the very first spectrum we obtained, we could tell we had an exciting binary discovery," says Adam Burgasser, professor of Physics at the University of California, San Diego, who led the spectroscopic analysis. "It was thrilling to see the absorption lines move back and forth in perfect synchronicity, and this allowed us to measure the mass of the binary."

The detection of eclipsing brown dwarfs is extremely rare - only one other such system has been identified to date. These systems provide astronomers the opportunity to measure the brown dwarfs' radii and masses directly, which are fundamental quantities for theoretical models. 2M1510 is also special in that it is among the very few brown dwarfs that has a known age, due to its membership in a nearby cluster of young stars called the Argus moving group.

"Collecting a combination of mass, radius and age is really rare for a star, let alone a brown dwarf," said Dr Amaury Triaud, from the School of Physics and Astronomy of the University of Birmingham, who was the lead author of the study. "Usually one or more of these measurements is missing. By drawing all these elements together, we were able to verify theoretical models for how brown dwarfs cool, models which are over 30 years old. We found the models match remarkably well with the observations, a testament to human ingenuity."

Research Report: "An Eclipsing Substellar Binary in a Young Triple System discovered by SPECULOOS"

Related Links
Trappist One
Lands Beyond Beyond - extra solar planets - news and science
Life Beyond Earth

Thanks for being there;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5+ Billed Monthly

paypal only
SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal

Cosmos: Possible Worlds
Los Angeles CA (SPX) Mar 09, 2020
Cosmos the popular TV series is back with a new season, Cosmos: Possible Worlds. This season the emphasis is on storytelling and exploration of possible worlds outside earth. Humans throughout history have journeyed to environments that are more favorable to their survival and wellbeing with mixed results. Cosmos possible worlds takes us on a journey that explores the challenges and historical paths taken and lessons learned in a multidisciplinary effort to educate and engage its audie ... read more

Comment using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

NASA update on Starliner flight test review

NASA: Boeing software team had too much power over Starliner capsule

Study confirms space-grown lettuce nutritious, safe

An astronaut's guide to applying to be an astronaut

SpaceX announces partnership to send tourists to ISS

Black Arrow marks 50 years since one and only UK satellite launch

SpaceX Dragon heads to Space Station for Monday docking

Aerojet Rocketdyne displays powerful hydrogen rocket engine at Infinity Science Center

Organic molecules discovered by Curiosity Rover consistent with early life on Mars

Moreux Crater on Mars offers evidence of dunes and glacial processes

Curiosity Mars Rover Snaps Highest-Resolution Panorama Yet

Virginia Middle School names NASA's next Mars rover Perseverance

China's Yuanwang-5 sails to Pacific Ocean for space monitoring mission

Construction of China's space station begins with start of LM-5B launch campaign

China Prepares to Launch Unknown Satellite Aboard Long March 7A Rocket

China's Long March-5B carrier rocket arrives at launch site

The impact of satellite constellations on astronomical observations

Blast off: space minnow Indonesia eyes celestial success

Blast off: space minnow Indonesia eyes celestial success

Kleos Space secures 3M Euro loan agreement with Dubai family office

Tech lifestyles enable 'safe escape' from coronavirus

Deep Space Antenna Upgrades to Affect Voyager Communications

Caltech and JPL launch hybrid high rate quantum communication systems

SpaceLogistics selected by DARPA as Commercial Partner for Robotic Servicing Mission

Cosmos: Possible Worlds

Is life a game of chance?

Salmon parasite is world's first non-oxygen breathing animal

Hydrogen energy at the root of life

Ultraviolet instrument delivered for ESA's Jupiter mission

One Step Closer to the Edge of the Solar System

TRIDENT Mission Concept Selected by NASA's Discovery Program

Findings from Juno Update Jupiter Water Mystery

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2024 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.