Jul 20, 2022

Citizen Scientist Leads Discovery of 34 Ultracool Brown Dwarfs with Companions

When do brown dwarfs and white dwarfs mix? Ask NASA citizen scientist Frank Kiwy! Kiwy mined a catalog of 4 billion stars and galaxies to discover 34 new systems, each comprising a white dwarf or low-mass star with an ultracool brown dwarf companion.

Kiwy then led a team of professional astrophysicists to announce these discoveries in a scientific paper, published this month in the Astronomical Journal.

Brown dwarfs, balls of gas that lacked the mass to become stars, sometime orbit objects, including white dwarfs, the much more massive remains of dead stars.  Finding these unusual pairs helps teach us about how stars form and evolve. Want to help find more brown dwarfs and rare objects in the Sun’s backyard?  Join the Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 citizen science project at

Illustration with black background and a larger red sphere in the foreground and a small white-blue glowing sphere in the distance.

Illustration of an ultracool brown dwarf with a companion white dwarf. Citizen scientist Frank Kiwy, participant in the Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 project, discovered 34 new ultracool dwarf binary systems in the Sun's neighborhood.

Credit: NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/M. Garlick

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