Discoveries point to a speed limit on how fast "failed stars" can rotate
Scientists have discovered the three fastest spinning "failed stars" found so far, suggesting that there may be a speed limit on the speed at which they can spin.
The big picture: These objects - called brown dwarfs - are considered "failed stars" that have not accumulated enough mass to ignite the fusion in their cores. They had to be viewed as stars and were too big to be a gas giant planet like Jupiter.
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By learning more about these fast-moving brown dwarfs, the researchers hope to find out more about their evolution and formation.
What they found: A new study in the Astronomical Journal shows that the three brown dwarfs each rotate completely about once an hour, despite very different environments.
Researchers believe that if these brown dwarfs spin faster than this "speed limit", they could cause them to break apart.
"It would be pretty spectacular to find a brown dwarf spinning so fast that it throws its atmosphere into space," said Megan Tannock, author of the new study, in a NASA statement.
"But we haven't found anything like it yet. I think that must mean that either something is slowing the Brown Dwarfs down before they reach that extreme, or they can't get that fast at all."
The Intrigue: The new study also shows that old, out of order telescopes can find a new life after death.
The researchers used data collected with NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, which was shut down in January 2020, to determine the spin rates of the brown dwarfs, and then used ground-based telescopes to gather more information.
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