Meet the New Neighbors


brown_dwarfsWISE J104915.57-531906 is at the center of the main image, which was taken by the  Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE). This is the closest star system discovered since 1916, and the third closest to our sun. It is 6.5 light-years away. At first, the light appeared to be from a single object, but a sharper image from Gemini Observatory in Chile revealed that it was from a pair of cool star-like bodies called brown dwarfs.

The pair is only slightly farther away than the second-closest star, Barnard’s star, which was found 6 light-years away in 1916. The closest star system consists of: Alpha Centauri, found in 1839 at 4.4 light-years away, and the fainter Proxima Centauri, discovered in 1917 at 4.2 light-years.

Since WISE J104915.57-531906 is only 6.5 light-years away Earth’s television transmissions from 2006 are now arriving there, and viewers there are still watching the first season of the Tenth Doctor with David Tennant.

Image Credit: NASA