Stars Study Suggests More Planets May Exist

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

A team of astronomers analyzing brown dwarf stars in the Orion nebula with an infrared telescope has determined that many of the failed stars are ringed by protoplanetary disks of dust and gas, just like true stars. The finding suggests that planets outside our solar system may be even more common than previously predicted because brown dwarfs may have planets circling them, said Charles Lada of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Lada made his presentation to a Pasadena meeting of the American Astronomical Society.

If any rocky planets do exist around brown dwarfs, they would be unlikely to harbor life because they would be totally frozen. The finding also suggests that brown dwarfs are much more like stars than "superplanets," as some astronomers have suggested.

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