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Astronomers Identify New Class of Brown Dwarfs

May 11, 2000

An international team of astronomers has identified three new brown dwarfs that are intermediate in character between the warm and cool brown dwarfs that are already well known. Astronomers had previously identified young, warm brown dwarfs, which look very much like stars, and old, cool brown dwarfs, which are similar to planets. The new observations, made by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and confirmed by the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope, are the first to reveal the objects as they are progressing from one extreme to the other. Brown dwarfs are bigger than Jupiter, but not big enough to sustain nuclear fusion, as stars do. Further details are available at http://xxx.lanl.gov/abs/astro-ph/0004408.

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Compiled by Times medical writer Thomas H. Maugh II

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