Closest Star System Found in a Century

Say hello to our new neighbors.

The star system is named “WISE J104915.57-531906″ because it was discovered in a map of the entire sky obtained by the NASA-funded Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) satellite. It is only slightly farther away than the second-closest star, Barnard’s star, which was discovered 6.0 light years from the Sun in 1916. The closest star system consists of Alpha Centauri, found to be a neighbor of the Sun in 1839 at 4.4 light years, and the fainter Proxima Centauri, discovered in 1917 at 4.2 light years.

First question, how did we miss this?

The new system is a binary system of brown dwarfs which are stars that are too small in mass to ever become hot enough to ignite hydrogen fusion. As a result, they are very cool and dim, resembling a giant planet like Jupiter more than a bright star like the sun. Oh that’s how we missed it.

Via NASA, Earthsky

blog comments powered by Disqus