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Brown Dwarf Seen From Project Backyard Worlds Near Solar System

Update Date: Jun 06, 2017 07:39 PM EDT
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After six days from the launch of the NASA-funded website Backyard Worlds: Planet 9, four users alerted the science team in this project about a curious moving object near the solar system. However, after comprehensive studies from the telescope, researchers confirmed the existence of the moving celestial object and identified it as a cold brown dwarf.

Main Goal Of NASA's Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 Project

Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 is a NASA-funded space exploration program for interested public volunteers. The main objective of this program is for researchers to hunt down any unknown celestial objects in the interstellar space between the Sun and the closest star, Proxima Centauri.

In this project, anyone could participate with a computer and an internet connection and explore space. The whole observation is conducted by the flip through images taken by NASA's Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) spacecraft. From these images, Backyard Worlds volunteers are able to detect a celestial object if it will reach close enough to Earth.

However, the detection is made after comparing the older image of the same spot with latest one, where this moving object will appear as a jump in the image. According to American Museum of Natural History, there are more than 38,000 moving objects are detected and tagged from this digital flipbooks for further investigation and identification purpose. So far, volunteers have classified more than four million flipbooks.

Detection Of A Brown Dwarf Near The Solar System

A few days after the debut of Backyard Worlds website on Feb. 15, Bob Fletcher, a science teacher in Tasmania, identified a very faint object moving across the WISE images. Apart from Bob, three other citizen scientists from Russia, Serbia, and the United States have also detected this moving object.

Later research team initialized their investigation from which they identified it as a brown dwarf, which was previously unidentified, as it obscured from the picture. Jackie Faherty, a senior scientist and one of Backyard World's researchers called the new found brown dwarf, WISEAJ110125.95+540052.8.

This is approximately 111 light-years away and just a few hundred degrees warmer than Jupiter. Now, all four members of the discovery have participated as the co-authors in this project related paper published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

According to NASA, there are lots of unknown brown dwarfs spread throughout the Milky Way galaxy. They also said that these are a substellar objects, with mass ranges between a gas-giant like Jupiter and the lightest stars.

Due to low mass, they cannot sustain energy from nuclear fusion like other stars. However, these are at least hot enough to glow in the infrared range of the light spectrum.


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