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November 29, 1995 03:00 PM (EST)

News Release Number: STScI-1995-48

Astronomers Announce First Clear Evidence of a Brown Dwarf

November 29, 1995: Astronomers have made the first unambiguous detection of an elusive type of object known as a brown dwarf.

The evidence consists of observations from 60-inch and 200-inch telescopes on Mount Palomar, and a confirmatory image from the Hubble telescope. The brown dwarf, called Gliese 229B (GL229B), is a small companion to the cool, red star Gliese 229, located 19 light-years from Earth in the constellation Lepus. Estimated to be 20 to 50 times the mass of Jupiter, GL229B is too massive and hot to be classified as a planet, but too small and cool to shine like a star. At least 100,000 times dimmer than Earth's Sun, the brown dwarf is the faintest object ever seen orbiting another star.

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Credit: S. Kulkarni (Caltech), D.Golimowski (JHU) and NASA