The missing brown dwarfs
|Possible manifestations of brown dwarfs (artist’s impression). As brown dwarfs |
are nearly invisible in the optical light and only emit radiation in the IR regime,
they exhibit different colors in that range [Credit: AIP/J. Fohlmeister]
Gabriel Bihain and Ralf-Dieter Scholz have taken a careful look at the distribution of nearby known brown dwarfs from a point of view that was not looked at before. To their surprise they discovered a significant asymmetry in the spatial configuration, strongly deviating from the known distribution of stars.
The scientists concluded that there should be many more brown dwarfs in the solar neighbourhood that are yet to be discovered and that will fill the observed gap. If they are right, this would mean that star formation fails significantly more often than previously thought, producing one brown dwarf for every four stars. In any case, it appears, the established picture of the solar neighbourhood and of its brown dwarf population will have to be rethought.
|Projection of the known nearby (d < 6.5 pc) brown dwarfs (red symbols) and stars |
(yellow symbols) on the Galactic plane. The Solar system symbol in the middle is
from Bobvan (Artificial Mythology project, http://www.bobvan.net/BOB/index.php/en/news).
The dashed line shows the direction to the Galactic centre [Credit: AIP/G. Bihain/Bobvan]
The study is published in the Astronomy and Astrophysics journal.
Source: Leibniz-Institut für Astrophysik Potsdam (AIP) [April 08, 2016]