News Report: Star Findings

Audio/Story posted March 18, 2013 in CommRadio by Samantha Celio

A Penn State associate professor of astronomy and astrophysics recently discovered a pair of stars.  Dr. Kevin Luhman says the stars are the closest star system discovered since 1916 and the third-closet star system to the sun at about six and a half light years away.  In 2010, Luhman says a satellite called WISE obtained images of the sky over the course of the year.  He said he “looked for objects that were moving across the sky very rapidly in those infrared time lapse photographs.”  Luhman says because the star system is so close,  it will be a good place to look for planets.  Both stars are “brown dwarfs,” which means their mass is too small to become hot enough to ignite hydrogen fusion.    These stars are dim and resemble a large planet, such as Jupiter rather than a bright star like the sun.  Research on the stars will be published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.