Friday, August 11, 2017

First Brown Dwarf Discovered by Planet 9 Citizen Science Project

The First Brown Dwarf Discovered by the Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 Citizen Science Project 
Kuchner et al 
The Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) is a powerful tool for finding nearby brown dwarfs and searching for new planets in the outer solar system, especially with the incorporation of NEOWISE and NEOWISE-Reactivation data. So far, searches for brown dwarfs in WISE data have yet to take advantage of the full depth of the WISE images. To efficiently search this unexplored space via visual inspection, we have launched a new citizen science project, called "Backyard Worlds: Planet 9," which asks volunteers to examine short animations composed of difference images constructed from time-resolved WISE coadds. We report the discovery of the first new substellar object found by this project, WISEA J110125.95+540052.8, a T5.5 brown dwarf located approximately 34 pc from the Sun with a total proper motion of ∼0.7 as yr−1. WISEA J110125.95+540052.8 has a WISE W2 magnitude of W2=15.37±0.09, this discovery demonstrates the ability of citizen scientists to identify moving objects via visual inspection that are 0.9 magnitudes fainter than the W2 single-exposure sensitivity, a threshold that has limited prior motion-based brown dwarf searches with WISE.

pop sci write up.

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