Hobbyist Discovers 34 Ultra-Cool Dwarf Binaries While Browsing Files

Hobbyist Discovers 34 Ultra-Cool Dwarf Binaries While Browsing Files

Illustration of an ultracool dwarf accompanied by a white dwarf.

Illustration of an ultracool dwarf accompanied by a white dwarf. -NOIRLAB/NSF/AURA/M. GARLIC


A total of 34 ultracold dwarf binary systems, a figure that almost doubles the previously known sampleswere discovered by an amateur scientist examining archival data.

Specifically, searched the NSF’s NOIRLab catalog of 4 billion celestial objects, known as the NOIRLab Source Catalog DR2to reveal brown dwarfs with companions.

Brown dwarfs lie somewhere between the most massive planets and the smallest stars. Lacking the mass to sustain nuclear reactions in their core, brown dwarfs vaguely resemble large-scale cooling embers. Their weakness and relatively small size make them difficult to identify. Data from sensitive telescopes has led to the discovery of several thousand objects, but only a small subset has been identified as binary. The difficulty of observing these faint embers also means that astronomers they don’t yet know how often brown dwarfs have companions.

To help find brown dwarfs, astronomers from the citizen science project Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 have already tapped into a global network of more than 100,000 volunteer citizen scientists who have examined telescope images to identify the subtle movement of brown dwarfs. relative to the background stars. Despite the capabilities of machine learning and supercomputers, the human eye remains a unique resource when it comes to finding moving objects in telescope images.

“The Backyard Worlds project has fostered a diverse community of talented volunteers,” said Aaron Meisner, astronomer at NSF’s NOIRLab and co-founder of Backyard Worlds. “One hundred and fifty thousand volunteers from around the world participated in Backyard Worlds, among which a few hundred “super users” carry out ambitious autonomous research projects”.

One of these “super detectives”, citizen scientist Frank Kiwy, has embarked on a research project involving NOIRLab’s DR2 source catalog, a catalog of nearly 4 billion unique celestial objects that contains all of the world’s public imagery data. NOIRLab Astronomical Data Archive.

By searching the data for objects the color of brown dwarfs, Kiwy was able to find over 2,500 potential ultracool dwarfs lurking in the file. They were then analyzed for signs of comorbid companions, yielding a total of 34 systems comprising a white dwarf or low-mass star with an ultracold dwarf companion. Kiwy then led a team of professional astrophysicists to publish these findings in a scientific paper in The Astronomical Journal.

“I love the Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 project. Once you’ve mastered the normal workflow, you can go much deeper into the subject.” Kiwi commented. “If you’re a curious person and aren’t afraid to learn something new, this might be for you.”

#Hobbyist #Discovers #UltraCool #Dwarf #Binaries #Browsing #Files

Leave a Comment