Luhman 16: Binary Brown Dwarf System

  • IASbaba
  • May 9, 2020
  • 0
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Luhman 16: Binary Brown Dwarf System

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Space

In News:

  • Recently, a group of astrophysicists have found that the closest known brown dwarf, Luhman 16A. 
  • It also shows signs of cloud bands similar to those seen on Jupiter and Saturn.

Key takeaways:

  • They used polarimetry technique to determine the properties of atmospheric clouds. 
  • They have found the actual structure of the clouds (not only their presence) in case of Luhman 16A. 

Important value additions:

Luhman 16

  • Luhman 16A is part of a binary system (Luhman 16) containing a second brown dwarf, Luhman 16B. 
  • This pair orbits each other.
  • It is situated at a distance of about 6.5 light years from the Sun and 
  • It is the third closest system to the Sun after Alpha Centauri and Barnard’s star.

Brown Dwarfs

  • They are also called failed stars. 
  • Their masses are heavier than planets but lighter than stars.

Binary Stars System

  • Binary stars are two stars orbiting a common center of mass.
  • Calculations of their orbits allow the masses of their component stars to be directly determined. 


  • It is the study of polarization
  • It is a property of light
  • It represents the direction in which the light wave oscillates.
  • When light is reflected off of particles it can favor a certain angle of polarization. 
  • By measuring the angle from a distant system, astronomers can deduce the presence of clouds.

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