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Brown Dwarf Careens Around a Young Solar Analogue

Using the Near-Infrared Coronagraphic Imager (NICI) on the Gemini-South telescope in Chile, an international team led by University of Hawaii astronomers Beth Biller and Michael Liu have directly imaged a brown dwarf in a tight orbit around a young Sun-like star. This discovery is a rare find, as the 36 Jupiter-mass brown dwarf companion (dubbed "PZ Tel B" for "PZ Telescopii B") resides only 18 Astronomical Units (AU) from its primary star, similar to the distance of Uranus from the Sun.
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Brown Dwarf Found Orbiting a Young Sun-Like Star

An international team led by University of Hawaii astronomers Beth Biller and Michael Liu with help from University of Arizona astronomer Laird Close and UA graduate students Eric Nielsen, Jared Males and Andy Skemer made the rare find using the Near-Infrared Coronagraphic Imager, or NICI, on the international 8-meter Gemini-South Telescope in Chile.
What makes this discovery special is the proximity between the 36 Jupiter-mass brown dwarf companion, dubbed PZ Tel B, and its primary star, named PZ Tel A. They are separated by only 18 Astronomical Units, or AUs, similar to the distance between Uranus and the sun.

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Title: The Gemini NICI Planet-Finding Campaign: Discovery of a Close Substellar Companion to the Young Debris Disk Star PZ Tel
Authors: Beth A. Biller, Michael C. Liu, Zahed Wahhaj, Eric L. Nielsen, Laird M. Close, Trent J. Dupuy, Thomas L. Hayward, Adam Burrows, Mark Chun, Christ Ftaclas, Fraser Clarke, Markus Hartung, Jared Males, I. Neill Reid, Evgenya L. Shkolnik, Andrew Skemer, Matthias Tecza, Niranjan Thatte, Silvia H.P. Alencar, Pawel Artymowicz, Alan Boss, Elisabete de Gouveia Dal Pino, Jane Gregorio-Hetem, Shigeru Ida, Marc J. Kuchner, Douglas Lin, Douglas Toomey

We report the discovery of a tight substellar companion to the young solar analogy PZ Tel, a member of the Beta Pictoris moving group observed with high contrast adaptive optics imaging as part of the Gemini NICI Planet-Finding Campaign. The companion was detected at a projected separation of 16.4 1.0 AU (0.33 0.01") in April 2009. Second-epoch observations in May 2010 demonstrate that the companion is physically associated and shows significant orbital motion. Monte Carlo modelling constrains the orbit of PZ Tel B to eccentricities > 0.6. The near-IR colours of PZ Tel B indicate a spectral type of M72 and thus this object will be a new benchmark companion for studies of ultracool, low-gravity photospheres. Adopting an age of 12 +8 -4 Myr for the system, we estimate a mass of 36 6 Mjup based on the Lyon/DUSTY evolutionary models. PZ Tel B is one of few young substellar companions directly imaged at orbital separations similar to those of giant planets in our own solar system. Additionally, the primary star PZ Tel A shows a 70 um emission excess, evidence for a significant quantity of circumstellar dust that has not been disrupted by the orbital motion of the companion.

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