Astronomers discovered the stars closest to our Solar System more than 100 years ago. There’s the three-star Alpha Centauri system about four light-years away and Barnard’s star about six light-years out.
But our celestial neck of the woods might be more crowded than we ever thought possible. In the past 25 years, astronomers have been identifying new objects that are also just a few light-years away: mysterious worlds known as brown dwarfs. Too large to be a planet but too small to become a star, brown dwarfs put out very little visible light, yet they glow brightly in the infrared. New infrared-enabled telescopes can image brown dwarfs effectively and have led to a raft of new discoveries — including a pair of dwarfs just past…
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Author: William Poor