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Hubble Finds Substellar Objects in the Orion Nebula

Bringing some of the mysteries of the universe a little closer to home.

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Owlscrying
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Unread post Fri Jan 12, 2018 2:40 pm

In an unprecedented deep survey for small, faint objects in the Orion Nebula, astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have uncovered the largest known population of brown dwarfs sprinkled among newborn stars. Looking in the vicinity of the survey stars, researchers not only found several very-low-mass brown dwarf companions, but also three giant planets. They even found an example of binary planets where two planets orbit each other in the absence of a parent star.

Brown dwarfs are a strange class of celestial object that have masses so low that their cores never become hot enough to sustain nuclear fusion, which powers stars. Instead, brown dwarfs cool and fade as they age. Despite their low mass, brown dwarfs provide important clues to understanding how stars and planets form, and may be among the most common objects in our Milky Way galaxy.

Located 1,350 light-years away, the Orion Nebula is a relatively nearby laboratory for studying the star formation process across a wide range, from opulent giant stars to diminutive red dwarf stars and elusive, faint brown dwarfs.

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Owlscrying
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Unread post Fri Jan 12, 2018 2:42 pm

Image
Credits: NASA , ESA, and G. Strampelli (STScI)

This image is part of a Hubble Space Telescope survey for low-mass stars, brown dwarfs, and planets in the Orion Nebula. Each symbol identifies a pair of objects, which can be seen in the symbol’s center as a single dot of light. Special image processing techniques were used to separate the starlight into a pair of objects. The thicker inner circle represents the primary body, and the thinner outer circle indicates the companion. The circles are color-coded: red for a planet; orange for a brown dwarf; and yellow for a star. Located in the upper left corner is a planet-planet pair in the absence of a parent star. In the middle of the right side is a pair of brown dwarfs. The portion of the Orion Nebula measures roughly four by three light-years.

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Owlscrying
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Unread post Fri Jan 12, 2018 2:43 pm



The Orion Nebula is one of the most scrutinized and photographed objects in the night sky, and is among the most intensely studied celestial features.[8] The nebula has revealed much about the process of how stars and planetary systems are formed from collapsing clouds of gas and dust. Astronomers have directly observed protoplanetary disks, brown dwarfs, intense and turbulent motions of the gas, and the photo-ionizing effects of massive nearby stars in the nebula.

 

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