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Searching for alien life? Check out failed stars

The search for alien life usually focuses on planets around other stars. But a lesser-known possibility is that life has sprung up on planets that somehow were ejected from their original solar systems and became free-floating in the universe, as well as on small bodies called sub-brown dwarfs, whicFull story

Coldest Known Star Is a Real Misfit

Astronomers have detected a new candidate for the coldest known star – one whose temperature is roughly equivalent to a fresh cup of tea. Full story

A new brown dwarf? If so, this one's even cooler

Not to be outdone by the Keck II telescope in Hawaii, NASA's infrared Spitzer Space Telescope may have discovered a brown dwarf even cooler than the brown dwarf Discovery News reported on last week. Full story

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Articles

NASA Sky-mapping Telescope Starts New Mission � Without Coolant

NASA sky-mapping telescope runs out of coolant

Rare find: Failed star circling sun-like star

Astronomers spot coldest stars yet

Mystery looms over possible brown dwarf star

Lines blur between planet and full-blown star

Not the brightest bulbs (in space)

Huge exoplanet puzzles astronomers

Mini-planet almost fits Earth’s profile

Related Photos

Cool brown dwarf
Cool brown dwarf

This artist’s impression shows the pair of brown dwarfs named CFBDSIR 1458+10. Observations with ESO’s Very Large Telescope and two other telescopes have shown that this pair is the coolest pair of brown dwarfs found so far. The colder of the two components is a candidate for the brown dwarf with t

PZ Tel A and PZ Tel B
PZ Tel A and PZ Tel B

The sun-like star, PZ Tel A and its brown dwarf companion, PZ Tel B. For size comparison, the size of Neptune's orbit is shown; PZ Tel B is one of few brown dwarfs imaged at a distance closer than 30 Astronomical Units from its parent star.

Brown dwarf
Brown dwarf

The smaller object in these two photos is a brown dwarf that orbits the star Gliese 229. Some scientists think our sun could have a similar brown dwarf companion called Nemesis. Image at left from Palomar Observatory, at right from Hubble Space Telescope.

Artist's impression shows how dim star might appear in visible light, as well as a warm brown dwarf and, at the far right, a cooler brown dwarf.
Artist's impression shows how dim star might appear in visible light, as well as a warm brown dwarf and, at the far right, a cooler brown dwarf.

Compared to the Sun, left, this artist's impression shows how dim star might appear in visible light, as well as a warm brown dwarf and, at the far right, a cooler brown dwarf.

Extrasolar planet
Extrasolar planet

Artist's conception of the newly discovered planet MOA-2007-BLG-192Lb orbiting a brown dwarf "star" with a mass of only 6 percent of that of the Sun. Theory suggests that the 3-Earth-mass planet is made primarily of rock and ice. Observational and theoretical studies of brown dwarfs reveal that they