A brown dwarf is a type of substellar object that has a mass between the most massive gas giant planets and the least massive stars, approximately 13 to 80 times that of Jupiter (MJ).
Unlike main sequence stars, brown dwarfs do not acquire enough mass to trigger sustained nuclear fusion of ordinary hydrogen (1H) into helium in their cores. For this reason brown dwarfs are sometimes referred to as failed stars. They are, however, thought to fuse deuterium (2H), and to fuse lithium (7Li) if their mass is > 65 MJ. The minimum mass required to trigger sustained hydrogen-burning forms the upper limit of the definition currently used by the International Astronomical Union, while the deuterium-burning minimum mass of ~13 MJ forms the lower limit of the class, below which lie the planets.
It is also debated whether brown dwarfs would be better defined by their formation process rather than by theoretical mass limits based on nuclear fusion reactions. Under this interpretation brown dwarfs are those objects that represent the lowest-mass products of the star formation process, while planets are objects formed in an accretion disk surrounding a star. The coolest free-floating objects discovered such ...