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Space Dynamics Lab-built telescope aids in accidental discovery of brown dwarf

Jacob Given / Space Dynamics Laboratory

A telescope built by Space Dynamics Laboratory has led to the discovery of a brown dwarf dubbed “The Accident.”

Citizen scientist Dan Caselden discovered The Accident by luck while sifting through a vast inventory of 19.38 million images. There are only 2,000 known brown dwarfs in our galaxy and The Accident was not on the map because it was different from usual brown dwarfs. It emitted weak signatures, suggesting it is old and yet indicated higher temperatures. Typically brown dwarfs will become dull and cold as they grow older.


The Space Dynamics Lab created the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer space telescope, known as WISE, for NASA to map and catalogue the sky in 2009. The program took pictures of nearly a billion objects over a 13-month period. In 2013, NASA adapted WISE to identify near-Earth objects and renamed it NEOWISE. They then began hunting for comets, asteroids and other objects passing within 28 million miles of Earth’s orbit. Read the rest of the story on


This story is made possible thanks to a community reporting partnership between The Herald Journal and Utah Public Radio.