Brown dwarfs

  • I. Neill Reid
  • Suzanne L. Hawley
Part of the Astronomy and Planetary Sciences book series (PRAXIS)


The existence of substellar-mass, star-like objects was first considered seriously by Kumar [K11] (Section 3.3), who outlined their essential properties: no central energy source due to hydrogen fusion, degeneracy and short luminous lifetimes. Like low-mass M dwarfs, these objects — renamed ‘brown dwarfs’ by Tarter [T1] — are ideal baryonic dark matter candidates, and have been the targets of a wide variety of surveys over the last three decades. As with any search for a newly-hypothesised object, the first task is to determine whether any exist. In answering this question, one can utilise all available techniques, without regard to the complications of biases and selection effects. However, once the issue of existence has been answered in the affirmative, the emphasis of observational programmes must change, moving from simple discovery searches to addressing specific issues through statistically well-controlled surveys. With the near-contemporaneous discoveries of Gl 229 B and the planet orbiting 51 Peg, both brown-dwarf and planet surveys have moved from the first to the second stage. Early results from the DENIS, 2MASS and SLOAN sky surveys are providing the data necessary for a transition from phenomenology to statistics.


Mass Function White Dwarf Spectral Type Initial Mass Function Tauri Star 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • I. Neill Reid
    • 1
  • Suzanne L. Hawley
    • 2
  1. 1.Formerly of Edinburgh UniversityEdinburghScotland
  2. 2.Department of Physics and AstronomyMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

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