A brown dwarf that has been nicknamed “The Accident” has been discovered by a citizen scientist thanks to an online program he made himself.
Dan Caselden made the discovery using data from the Near-Earth Object Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE), which belongs to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
Researchers, who have since observed the brown dwarf, said that The Accident is different from the usual brown dwarfs previously discovered.
Brown Dwarf Nicknamed ‘The Accident’ Discovered
A brown dwarf nicknamed “The Accident” has been discovered by a citizen scientist named Dan Caselden using an online program he made as well as data from NASA’s NEOWISE.
The formal name of The Accident is WISEA J153429.75-104303.3, according to a report by Space. The Accident can be found 50 million light-years away from Earth.
This brown dwarf, however, is not like previously discovered brown dwarfs as discovered by researchers after further observations.
According to Space, The Accident is estimated to be around 10 to 13 billion years old. That number is double the usual age of other brown dwarfs.
“We expected that brown dwarfs this old exist, but we also expected them to be incredibly rare,” according to astrophysicist Federico Marocco, as quoted in the report by Space.
“The chance of finding one so close to the solar system could be a lucky coincidence, or it tells us that they’re more common than we thought,” Morocco adds.
The Accident also spins at about 500,000 mph, which makes it faster than the other brown dwarfs that are located in the same distance from Earth.
Further Observations Using Ground-Based Telescopes
Since the discovery of The Accident, astronomers have conducted further observations of the unusual brown dwarf using ground-based telescopes at the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii.
The researchers eventually discovered that The Accident “appeared so faint that it was undetectable, confirming it is in fact very cold, and therefore very old,” according to Space.
It was also discovered that The Accident has low levels of methane in comparison to other previously discovered brown dwarfs. The researchers think that the low levels of methane support the idea that The Accident after the Milky Way galaxy was formed.
What is a Brown Dwarf?
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has said that brown dwarfs “aren’t quite stars and aren’t quite planets.”
“Though they form like stars, these objects don’t have enough mass to kickstart nuclear fusion, the process that causes stars to shine,” according to JPL.
An example of a brown dwarf that has been previously discovered is the WISE J085510.83-071442.5. When it was discovered in 2014, it was said to be the coldest brown dwarf ever discovered.
Another example of a brown dwarf is the SDSS J0104+1535, which was discovered in 2015.
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Written by Isabella James