A rare brown dwarf posing for Keck

A group of researchers used the Keck I and Keck Hawaiians II telescopes to study in detail this brown dwarf of spectral class T. The research has been going on for 17 years, and researchers have used different tools, such as the HIRES and NIRC2. The data are a point of reference for the study of objects with masses that lie between those of the stars and the planets.



It is considered to be an important milestone that was achieved by a team of researchers from the University of Notre Dame who took a photo of a very rare type of brown dwarf, which can serve as a point of reference for the study of objects with masses that lie between those of the stars and the planets. HD 19467 B was photographed by the Keck telescopes on the summit of Mauna Kea volcano in Hawaii.

The first data came from TRENDS survey (Targeting benchmark -objects with Doppler Spectroscopy) using adaptive optics to counteract the effect of Earth’s atmosphere and to detect the oldest and weakest objects in orbit around nearby stars to us. More precise measurements, however, were carried by Keck Observatory.

Brown dwarfs emit a very faint and dim emission because it no longer burns hydrogen and cools quickly. HD 19467 B is a brown dwarf of spectral class T: the main classes of this type of star are M, L , T and Y, where the M-Class are the hottest and the Class Y the coldest. Exact details of its radial velocity were obtained thanks to HIRES (High Resolution Echelle Spectrometer), the largest and most complex of the main instruments of the Keck telescope, which measures the intensity of each color of the light spectrum of an object. For the discovery and study, documented in the Astrophysical Journal, they needed no less than 17 years of research, since 1996. Observations show acceleration in the long term, indicating that the low-mass companion was attracted to the parent star. Other images were taken in 2013 with NIRC2 (Near Infrared Camera), an instrument, mounted on the second telescope, so sensitive to be able (if possible) to detect the flame of a candle on the Moon.

“This object is very old and cold. Continuing with the follow-up observations we can use this star as a laboratory to test different atmospheric models,” said Justin R. Crepp, first author of the study. “If we are lucky we can even take direct images of Earth-like planets. Then, from the spectrum of light, we might even be able to say with certainty to what is made up the planet, its mass, radius, age and other physical properties. “

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