News Release Archive:

News Release 448 of 1051

September 7, 2006 01:00 PM (EDT)

News Release Number: STScI-2006-31

Planet Or Failed Star? NASA's Hubble Telescope Photographs One of Smallest Stellar Companions Ever Seen


Image: CHXR 73 A and B - Red Dwarf and Substellar Companion

CHXR 73 A and B - Red Dwarf and Substellar CompanionSTScI-PRC2006-31a

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This NASA Hubble Space Telescope image shows one of the smallest objects ever seen around a normal star. Astronomers believe the object is a brown dwarf because it is 12 times more massive than Jupiter. The brown dwarf candidate, called CHXR 73 B, is the bright spot at lower right. It orbits a red dwarf star, dubbed CHXR 73, which is a third less massive than the Sun. At 2 million years old, the star is very young when compared with our middle-aged 4.6-billion-year-old Sun.

CHXR 73 B orbits 19.5 billion miles from its star, or roughly 200 times farther than Earth is from the Sun.

The star looks significantly larger than CHXR 73 B because it is much brighter than its companion. CHXR 73 B is 1/100 as bright as its star. The cross-shaped diffraction spikes around the star are artifacts produced within the telescope's optics. The star is 500 light-years away from Earth.

Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys snapped the image in near-infrared light on Feb. 10 and 15, 2005. The color used in the image does not reflect the object's true color.

Members of the research team are K. L. Luhman, Penn State University; J. C. Wilson, M. F. Skrutskie, M. J. Nelson, and D. E. Peterson, University of Virginia; W. Brandner, Max-Planck Institute for Astronomy; and J. D. Smith, M. C. Cushing, and E. Young, University of Arizona.

Object Name: CHXR 73 A and B

Image Type: Astronomical

Credit: NASA, ESA and K. Luhman (Penn State University)


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