Failed ‘star’ found in sun’s backyard

Called a brown dwarf, NASA says it’s ‘as frosty as Earth’s North Pole’

By Janet Raloff, 09:06 AM April 30, 2014

Some starlets aren’t so hot. Consider the brown dwarf that was just found 7.2 light-years from our sun. NASA reported the discovery of this object on April 25. The failed star has a downright frosty temperature, somewhere between -48º and -13º Celsius (-54º to 9º Fahrenheit).

Like regular stars, brown dwarfs begin as balls of gas. Over time, gravity causes that gas to condense into a tight mass. In a star like our sun, the mass of condensed gas drives fusion — the nuclear reaction that release...

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