This artist's animation shows a brown dwarf surrounded by a swirling disc of planet-building dust. NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope spotted such a disc around a surprisingly low-mass brown dwarf, or 'failed star.'
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Birth of an Unusual Planetary System (Artist Concept)

This artist's animation shows a brown dwarf surrounded by a swirling disc of planet-building dust. NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope spotted such a disc around a surprisingly low-mass brown dwarf, or "failed star." The brown dwarf, called OTS 44, is only 15 times the size of Jupiter, making it the smallest brown dwarf known to host a planet-forming, or protoplanetary disc.

Astronomers believe that this unusual system will eventually spawn planets. If so, they speculate that OTS 44's disc has enough mass to make one small gas giant and a few Earth-sized rocky planets.

OTS 44 is about 2 million years old. At this relatively young age, brown dwarfs are warm and appear reddish in color. With age, they grow cooler and darker.

Image details

ID#:
PIA07335

Date added:
2005-02-08

Target:
OTS 44

Mission:
Spitzer Space Telescope

Spacecraft:
Spitzer Space Telescope

Rating:



Views:
6,480

Full-Res TIFF:
PIA07335.tif (11.05 MB)

Full-Res JPG:
PIA07335.jpg (0.37 MB)

Image credit:
NASA/JPL-Caltech