In a recent study, astronomers have discovered a cold ‘brown dwarf’ also known as a ‘super planet’-BDR J1750+3809 with the help of a radio telescope. Scientists have nicknamed the faint super-planet as ‘Elegast’ that has remained elusive to standard infrared survey methods. It was first identified by using data from the Low-Frequency Array (LOFAR) radio telescope in the Netherlands.

Elegast first to be detected using a radio telescope

Generally, brown dwarfs are referred to as failed stars or super planets because they are too small to be considered stars, yet too big to be considered planets. The substellar object is usually discovered by infrared sky surveys, however, Elegast was the first substellar object to be detected using a radio telescope, according to a statement from the University of Hawaii. 

Michael Liu, the co-author of the study and researcher from the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy, said in the statement that the work opens a whole new method to finding the coldest objects floating in the sun’s vicinity, which would otherwise be too faint to discover with the methods used for the past 25 years.

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As brown dwarfs are too tiny to become stars, they don’t undergo the same nuclear fusion reactions that fuel bright stars, like the sun. Hence, they are smaller, darker, and colder than normal stars, making them harder to find using conventional methods, such as infrared instruments, the researchers said. Brown dwarfs can however emit light at radio wavelengths, they added.

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After discovering Elegast using the LOFAR radio telescope, scientists later confirmed their observations using the International Gemini Observatory in Hawaii and Chile and the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility, which is operated by the University of Hawaii. 

According to the statement, using the LOFAR instrument to detect Elegast describes an innovative approach that could help scientists discover other celestial objects, such as gas giant exoplanets, that are extremely cold or faint to be detected by infrared surveys. Further, the latest research was published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters on November 9.

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