Recently, a team of astronomers took a look at a celestial object called “The Accident.” We’re talking about a brown dwarf, a planet too big to be a planet, but a star too small to be a star: in short, a hybrid.
The study was published on June 30 in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. Brown dwarfs are usually too weak to be seen with the naked eye, but scientists have detected about 2,000 of these objects in the Milky Way using infrared telescopes. “The Accident” was discovered during one of these surveys.
The object appeared weak in some infrared wavelengths, suggesting it was a very cold and old brunette dwarf, but it appeared bright in other wavelengths, indicating that it was a hot and young brunette dwarf. “This object exceeded all our expectations,” said the author of the Davy Kirkpatrick, astrophysicist of the Caltech in Pasadena, California.
Because of this contradiction, experts have begun to study the heavenly body. The first information discovered is that it is moving very fast in the Milky Way: 800,000 km/h, much faster than a normal brown dwarf. This means that the missing star could be very ancient and was pushed by the gravity of larger objects for billions of years, accelerating its movement.
The elements of the object’s atmosphere have also left scientists speechless: the object is low in methane, a common gas in brown dwarfs with temperatures similar to The Accident; a scarcity of methane suggests that the object has formed from 10 to 13 billion
This suggests that the celestial body is incredibly old, with more than twice the average age of all other known brown dwarfs. “We expected that there were such ancient brown dwarfs, but we also expected them to be incredibly rare. The possibility of finding one so close to the solar system could be a lucky coincidence, or it tells us that they are more common than we thought,” said the co-author of the study Federico Morocco, an astrophysicist of Caltech.
This is the first direct image of a brunette dwarf, while NASA measured the incredible wind speed of a similar celestial body.