Weird ‘failed star’ seen blasting off its outer layers for first time

A brown dwarf – partway between a planet and a star – has been spotted engulfed in a cloud of gas, which it probably produced after a huge pulse of heat blasted through it

Space 13 September 2022

This artist's concept shows an auroral display on a brown dwarf. If you could see an aurora on a brown dwarf, it would be a million times brighter than an aurora on Earth.

An artist impression of a brown dwarf

Chuck Carter and Gregg Hallinan/Caltech

A strange “failed star” has shed its outer layers – an event that astronomers had never seen before. The celestial body appears to be surrounded by a bubble of gas that was mostly blasted off by an immense pulse of heat.

Dary Ruíz-Rodríguez at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Virginia and her colleagues were looking for the early signs of planets forming when they spotted what seemed to be a bubble of carbon monoxide. “When I found this object it was …

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