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Free-floating Planets: When You’re Just Too Small to be a Star

Dr. Gibor BasriApril 17, 2013

Dr. Gibor Basri (University of California, Berkeley)

Listen (mp3 file, 34.4 MB)

The least massive star is six times heavier than the most massive known planet. In between is the realm of the mysterious “brown dwarfs.” The first of these was discovered only in 1995, the same year astronomers found the first planet beyond our solar system. Since then we have found hundreds of each, and new techniques are giving us even more power to probe the properties of these enigmatic bodies. Dr. Basri, one of the discoverers of brown dwarfs, summarizes the progress we have made in understanding the domain of cosmic objects that don’t qualify as stars.