Amateur astronomers have made an interesting discovery through the “Disc Detective” project. Working with researchers, these amateur scientists have discovered the closest brown dwarf disk ever. Brown dwarfs are too big to be planets, but not enough to be stars. Scientists believe that brown dwarfs are missing links between the largest gas giant smaller planets and smaller stars. Because their light is so dark, it is difficult to find in the night sky. Some brown dwarfs retain the swirling gas and dust disks they left behind when they first formed, which can collide and form planets, but it is unclear what kind of planet shimasis can produce.
Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Oklahoma, with the help of amateur astronomers, identified a brown dwarf, the youngest of its kind, about 100 Pais of its kind. Officially known as W1200-7845, its disc type seems likely to form a planet. Scientists say it is about 3.7 million years old and about 332 light-years from Earth. Scientists believe it is so close to Earth that they may be able to take a closer look at the young system using future high-powertelescopes. They hope they may be able to check the earliest conditions of the brown dwarf disk and learn more about the planets that brown dwarfs may support.
The Disc Detective project is a crowdsourcing project funded by NASA and sponsored by Zooniverse, providing images of objects in space for the public to classify. The goal of the project is to select objects that are likely to be stars, and that the disks of these objects could form new planets. These images were taken by NASA’s WISE spacecraft.