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Astronomers identify new type of star

A new type of star has been discovered lurking as a low mass component in a very compact binary star system. Astronomers announced today at the American Astronomical Society Meeting in Seattle, Wash., that they have confirmed the existence of a new variety of stellar end-product. This previously unknown type of star has some properties similar to brown dwarf stars and may help astronomers understand some of the recently discovered extra-solar planets in close proximity to their suns.

Planet-Hunting Machine is Getting Even Better

The world’s best planet-hunting machine, the Keck High Resolution Echelle Spectrometer, will be getting even better this year with an advanced imaging array that will improve efforts to detect extra-solar planets, examine distant quasars, measure extragalactic stars and do other research requiring very precise wavelength measurements of thousands of color channels with one exposure. HIRES, a visible-wavelength spectrometer responsible for 20 percent of the science on the Keck I telescope, will be getting an advanced new detector that will increase photon detection rates at ultraviolet wavelengths by a factor of 8 (at 3200 ?), expand single-exposure wavelength coverage, provide finer sampling of spectral features, and allow faster readout rates to provide higher-quality science in less time.