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Failed Stars May Be Most Common Objects in Milky Way, Astronomers Say

June 11, 1998

Large balls of gas--failed stars that glow faintly like dying embers--are a newly discovered class of stellar objects and may be the most common bodies in the Milky Way, Caltech astronomers reported Tuesday at a San Diego meeting of the American Astronomical Society. They call the new objects "L" dwarfs and said their discovery will force revision of a century-old system of classifying stars based on chemistry and temperature.

J. Davy Kirkpatrick and his colleagues discovered that some objects that glow very faintly in visible light have a surface temperature much lower than the sun's, a mass about a third of the sun's and a diameter about the same as Jupiter's.

Compiled by Times medical writer Thomas H. Maugh II

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