Are brown dwarfs stars or planets? Boffins find evidence for proto-suns in a solar system

www.theregister.co.uk | 4/10/2019 | Staff
dorkyrocker (Posted by) Level 3
Click For Photo: https://regmedia.co.uk/2019/04/09/brown_dwarf.jpg

The discovery of two oddball brown dwarfs orbiting a giant orange star has reignited the question of whether brown dwarfs are feeble stars or bloated planets.

V Ophiuchi (pronounced Nu Ophiuchi) is a large, cool K-type star surrounded by two brown dwarfs. One is 22.2 times the mass of Jupiter, and the other is even heavier at 24.7 times the mass of Jupiter. Brown dwarfs are often found orbiting stars or floating through the Milky Way alone, so it’s not too uncommon to spot two circling a larger a star.

Structure - Dwarf - Orbits - Parent - Star

What is surprising, however, is the structure of both of the brown dwarf’s orbits. They are locked around its parent star v Ophiuchi in such a way that their orbital periods are almost in perfect ratios of one another. The lighter brown dwarf closer to the star completes an orbit in 530 days, whilst the heavier one further away finishes a lap in 3185 days. It means that as soon as the outer object finishes one orbit, the inner one has already gone past its star six times.

A team of researchers led by the Centre for Astronomy of Heidelberg University describe this as a 6:1 resonant orbital configuration. It raises the question if brown dwarfs are created from the gravitational collapse of interstellar clouds like typical stars, or if they’re formed in protoplanetary disks around other stars like planets.

Resonance - Indication - Latter

“The 6:1 resonance is a strong indication for the latter...
(Excerpt) Read more at: www.theregister.co.uk
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