Astronomers Detected Intriguing Brown Dwarf Using Radio Observations

brown dwarf discovery

If white dwarfs were considered very special, the discovery of a cold brown dwarf exceeded astronomers’ exceptions.

A team of astronomers used the LOFAR (the Low-Frequency Array) radio telescope and detected a novel radio source. Further observations and the discovery proved to be more important than previously believed.

The object, a cold brown dwarf, dubbed BDR 1750+3809, is quite the cosmic feature. The team published a paper and explained why the discovery is significant. Here is what you need to know.

Brown Dwarf Characteristics and Behavior

Brown dwarfs are some intermediate cosmic features between stars and planets, having a mass of approximately 13 or 80 Jupiter masses. 

This type of dwarfs displays optical aurorae and the associated auroral radio emission fueled by the electron cyclotron maser instability. According to astronomers, only the radio telescopes can spot the presence of new brown dwarfs. And the best ones are the wide-area surveys and the low-frequency observations.

Those devices can capture the most accurate radio-emitting sources. For instance, for the current survey, astronomers looked for so-called CP radio sources (circularly polarized). 

However, previous research showed that radio-emitters with high CP fraction could be planets, stars, brown dwarfs, and even pulsars. The low-frequency quests for brown dwarfs have been very successful so far.

The Team’s Findings

The team of astronomers supervised by Harish Vedantham from the University of Groningen, Netherlands, has made quite the discovery. According to their findings, the BDR 1750+3809, a radio source detected using LOFAR, is a substellar cosmic feature. It has a brown dwarf status proved by follow-up spectroscopic and near-infrared photometric observations. 

The spectrum of BDR 1750+3809 displays methane and strong water absorption, indicative of spectral type T. The results also allowed the team to classify the space object as a cold methane dwarf with a spectral type T6.5.

The finding of BDR 1750+3809 gives a lot of hope that low-frequency surveys could also be positive in the future, bringing many essential data. 

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