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Two Massive Objects Discovered Challenges Our Understanding of Star Evolution

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Not quite a planet, not quite a star!

VIA Science Alert:

The line between star and planet might be a lot finer than we think.

Brown dwarfs are celestial objects that are more massive than a planet, but not quite massive enough to be stars. But astronomers have discovered two brown dwarfs that are so massive they’re challenging our understanding of star evolution.

They’re called Epsilon Indi B and C, and with new estimates putting them at more than 70 times the mass of Jupiter, they’re seriously close to making the big time as stars.

But their dull luminosity suggests they’re definitely not stars as yet, and it’s forced astronomers to reconsider exactly how heavy an object has to be in order for it to spark up with nuclear fusion.

Brown dwarfs are typically described as failed stars, falling short of possessing the material necessary for gravity to put the big squeeze on atoms of hydrogen and ignite a nuclear furnace.

Currently, brown dwarfs are thought to have an upper limit of around 70 Jupiter masses. Beyond that and there’s every chance they’ll start to shine.

But this discovery suggests that might not be the case.

Discovered back in 2003 inside the Indus constellation, roughly 12 light-years away, the Epsilon Indi system consists of a small main sequence star about three quarters the mass of our own Sun, and a pair of brown dwarfs.

Even more recently a Jupiter-sized object was found orbiting the star, which is currently the nearest exoplanet of its kind to our own Solar System.

MIKE MCRAE
Science Alert
Headline Image: (Roberto Molar Candanosa and Sergio Dieterich, courtesy of the Carnegie Institution for Science)


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DID YOU KNOW…

The Country of Ethiopia has 13 Months, Celebrates New Year on September 11th
*UPDATED WEEKLY
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