Stars vs brown dwarves
A new study suggests that brown dwarves could be larger than previously thought possible. The research will help scientists pin down the line separating stars from brown dwarves.
Brown dwarves and stars begin their lives the same way. If they have enough mass they will fuse hydrogen atoms together, producing heat and light. Below a certain mass fusion doesn’t happen and they instead become brown dwarves.
The mass needed to trigger fusion is not known exactly, but current theories predict it lies between 70 to 73 times the mass of Jupiter. However, a team of researchers has now found a brown dwarf that is 75 Jupiter masses in size.
“We showed that the heaviest brown dwarves and the lightest stars may only have slight differences in mass. But despite this, they are destined for different lives – one racing to dim and cool, the other shining for billions of years,” says Serge Dieterich from the Carnegie Institute for Science, who led the study.
The difference between a star and a brown dwarf may not be as massive as previously thought