A Pair of Lonely Dwarfs


Luhman 16AB is a double star system composed of two brown dwarfs. It’s only about six light-years away, and is the third closest stellar system to Earth—after the triple star system Alpha Centauri and Barnard’s Star. Because the brown dwarfs are so dim, Luhman 16AB was only discovered in 2013.

This series of dots with varying spacings between them in the image above shows the slow waltz of the two brown dwarfs. It’s a composite of 12 images made over the course of three years by the Hubble Space Telescope. Using high-precision astrometry, a team of astronomers tracked the two components of the system as they moved both across the sky and around each other.

The brown dwarfs, Luhman 16A and Luhman 16B, orbit each other at a distance of only about 500,000,000 km, roughly three times the distance between the Earth and the Sun. Observations of the system require high resolution. The astronomers using Hubble to study Luhman 16AB were not only interested in the waltz of the two starss as they orbited each other but also were also searching for a third, invisible partner. Earlier ground-based observation suggested the presence of an exoplanet in the system, but the Hubble data showed that the two dwarfs are indeed dancing alone, unperturbed by a massive planetary companion.

Image Credit: NASA / ESA

7 thoughts on “A Pair of Lonely Dwarfs

    • Bill wouldn’t be Bill if he wasn’t getting his panties in a bunch over some stupid thing or another. How about this Bill. YOU try and get some readers for YOUR blog. Other than Team Pedo and your socks that is. THEN come back and complain. Loser.

      • Also, when people put things into the public domain, quoting them is NOT stealing, but obviously Bill is far too stupid to understand that. I shudder to think what it must be like to go through life being that stupid. Guess that explains why he could never keep a job.

  1. The brown dwarfs, Luhman 16A and Luhman 16B, orbit each other at a distance of only about 500,000 km, roughly three times the distance between the Earth and the Sun.

    Pretty sure your number is off by 1000, since the moon is around 380 thousand km, whereas the sun is around 150 million km, and they’re unlikely to be existences with a 400,000 km separation without astronomers harping on it endlessly.

  2. Pingback: In The Mailbox: 06.12.17 : The Other McCain

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