“Near Our Sun” –100 New Worlds That Could Harbor Water Clouds

 

Brown Dwarf Star

 

Astronomers estimate that up to 100 billion brown dwarfs make their home in our Milky Way Galaxy. Yet it remains unclear how they form—whether they are “failed” stars or possibly even super-planets. Now, scientists using the NSF’s NOIRLab and a team of data-sleuthing volunteers participating in Backyard Worlds: Planet 9, a citizen science project, have discovered roughly 100 cool worlds near the Sun — objects more massive than planets but lighter than stars that lack the mass needed to trigger nuclear fusion in their core, known as brown dwarfs. Several of these newly discovered worlds are among the very coolest known, with a few approaching the temperature of Earth — cool enough to harbor water clouds.

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