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James Webb Space Telescope will hunt down brown dwarfs

8 Jan 2018, 11:18 UTC
James Webb Space Telescope will hunt down brown dwarfs
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Brown dwarfs did not have mass originally to initiate nuclear fusion, thus producing intense starlight. Image credit: NASA/ESA/JPL
When NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is eventually hoisted into space, it will open a floodgate of new astronomical observations regarding prospects that were previously hidden. From this, astronomers hope to use the amazing infrared capabilities of the JWST to examine the baffling nature of brown dwarfs. These objects are a grey area between stars and planets, as their dimly light presence can’t satisfy the criteria of either a star of a planet. The curious nature of brown dwarfs make us question our current understanding of star formation, which is what the JWST could help reveal.
There are many teams of astronomers wishing to use JWST to study brown dwarfs, as they hope to get to the bottom of understanding star formation and exoplanet atmospheres. Between stars and planets is where brown dwarfs lie, as early in their life they did not have enough mass to instigate nuclear fusion and radiate starlight, despite having up to 70 times the mass of Jupiter. These stellar outcasts were theorised in the 1960s, but weren’t confirmed until 1995, because their light is incredibly dim ...

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