Scientists discover a pair of very cold brown dwarfs

Scientists have discovered that the very small and cold brown dwarf W0336 is the first known pair of such objects that are far from any star. Their temperature is only 415 K.

A pair of brown dwarfs. Source:

New pair of brown dwarfs

Scientists working with the James Webb Space Telescope have discovered the first known pair of Y-type brown dwarfs known to humans. These are the smallest objects that cannot yet be considered stars, since they emit enough of their own light to be noticed by terrestrial telescopes. Although other scientists suggest that they can already be classified as planets, because in size and mass they are very close to large gas giants.

An article about the discovery was published on the arXiv website. The authors describe how the brown dwarf WISE J033605.05-014350.4, which is briefly called W0336, is observed using the NIRCam near-infrared light camera installed on the telescope. 

This object was opened back in 2012 and at the same time it became known that it belongs to Y-type. It is located 32.7 light years away from us in the direction of the constellation Eridanus. The mass of this brown dwarf is from 8.5 to 18 Jupiter masses, and its temperature is 415 K, that is, it is not much hotter than a well-heated frying pan.

W0336 system. Source: Calissendorf et al, 2023

Why is this system interesting

A new study says that in fact this system is binary. The found companion has a mass of 5 to 11.5 Jupiter masses. It is small enough to be considered a planet. However, due to the temperature of 325 K, scientists tend to classify it as a brown dwarf.

Separates the two components by only 0.91 au. This is slightly less than the distance from Earth to the Sun. Therefore, scientists believe that the two objects are supply-side closed, that is, they are always turned to each other by the same side. Scientists have estimated the age of this system from 1 to 5 billion years.

It is interesting precisely because previously pairs of such small objects have not been found far from the stars. A pair of much larger brown dwarfs, Luman 16, was discovered 10 years ago. Orphan planets have also been found, but they have been isolated. 

Depending on the classification, W0336 may turn out to be either the first brown dwarf planetary system, or the first orphan binary planet, or a very exotic binary brown dwarf. In any case, the question of whether life is possible on such objects and how it looks is extremely interesting.

According to

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