Tiny, ‘ultracool’ star emits surprising radio signals that it should not be capable of producing

An artist’s interpretation of what a brown dwarf star may look like from an exoplanet that orbits one. (Image credit: GETTY/MARK GARLICK/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY)

Researchers have detected surprising radio signals coming from a tiny, “ultracool” star that should not be able to give off the radiation bursts. The peculiar celestial object, which blurs the line between a planet and a star, could help scientists learn more about how small stars evolve.

The object, named T8 Dwarf WISE J062309.94−045624.6 (W0623), is a so-called brown dwarf. This kind of “protostar” has a composition similar to gas giants like Jupiter, but it can fuse hydrogen atoms, without being able to sustain full-scale nuclear fusion at its core like most stars do. W0623, which was first discovered in 2011, is around 37 light-years from Earth. It has a radius somewhere between 0.65 and 0.95 times that of Jupiter and a mass around 44 times greater than the gas giant, making it highly dense. 

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