95 Cool New Neighbors Discovered by Carnegie Alum and Citizen Scientists

White dwarf and its brown dwarf companion Credits: NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/P. Marenfeld/Acknowledgement: William Pendrill
Illustration of a white dwarf and its brown dwarf companion, which was only recently discovered by citizen scientists. Credits: NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/P. Marenfeld/Acknowledgement: William Pendrill
Tuesday, August 25, 2020 

Carnegie Alum Jackie Faherty was part of a team consisting of citizen scientists and professional astronomers that recently discovered 95 cool brown dwarfs close to our own Solar System. Faherty was a co-author on the resulting paper, which was recently published in The Astrophysical Journal.

The research comes out of Backyard Worlds: Planet 9, a NASA-funded citizen science project aimed at searching the area past Neptune for new brown dwarfs. The project relied on the sheer manpower of 100,000 citizen scientists to scan and compare trillions of pixels from telescope images for tiny changes and movements that could indicate nearby brown dwarfs.

“This paper is evidence that the solar neighborhood is still uncharted territory and citizen scientists are excellent astronomical cartographers," said Faherty in a NASA statement. "Mapping the coldest brown dwarfs down to the lowest masses gives us key insights into the low-mass star-formation process while providing a target list for detailed studies of the atmospheres of Jupiter analogs."

Read more about the project:


SPACE.com: https://www.space.com/citizen-scientists-discover-95-brown-dwarfs.html

Planet 9: https://www.zooniverse.org/projects/marckuchner/backyard-worlds-planet-9