Journal of Undergraduate Research


binary brown dwarf systems, model point spread functions, hydrogen fusion


Physical and Mathematical Sciences


Physics and Astronomy


The purpose of this project was to improve upon a method for discovering binary brown dwarf systems, and create a program to speed up the implementation of that method. A Brown Dwarf (BD) is a celestial object that is not massive enough to undergo hydrogen fusion in its core, meaning it is too small to be a star, but is also too big to be a planet. BDs can form in low-mass binary pairs. A stellar object located many parsecs away will act as a point source of light for an observer on Earth, therefore the light from such an object will spread out from a central point in a predictable pattern known as its Point Spread Function (PSF). Due to the great distances between Earth and these BDs compared to their separation, their two respective PSFs will overlap to some degree and the binary system appears to be a single, unresolved object in telescope images. Figure 1 shows this process, if the PSFs have a separation less than what is known as the Rayleigh limit, they form a single PSF that cannot be resolved into two.