Caption: Two brown dwarf stars, locked in binary orbit, engage in a celestial waltz. This Flash animation shows how the two "failed" stars found in the Orion Nebula orbit one another. Viewed edge-on, the stars eclipse one another, permitting astronomers to make some of the first critical measurements of a class of star that falls between the smallest star and the largest planet.
Flash movie by: Ann Feild, Space Telescope Science Institute
Date: March 2006
Quicktime version


Caption: Probing the Orion Nebula, a team of astronomers from Vanderbilt University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Space Telescope Science Institute discovered a pair of brown dwarf stars locked in mutual orbit. The discovery, reported March 16, 2006 in the journal Nature, permits some of the first critical measurements of an important class of stars.
Image courtesy: Space Telescope Science Institute
Date: March 2006
300 DPI JPEG version


Caption: A binary brown dwarf system found in the Orion Nebula gives astronomers their first opportunity to make detailed measurements of the failed stars. Brown dwarfs are stars that, because they lack sufficient mass, fail to achieve nuclear fusion. The star system is oriented so it can be observed edge-on from Earth, giving astronomers a chance to weigh and measure the radii of the stars.
Image courtesy: Space Telescope Science Institute
Date: March 2006
300 DPI JPEG version