Artist's impression showing a brown dwarf surrounded by a swirling disc of planet-building dust. NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope

- Image ID: D98KMY
Artist's impression showing a brown dwarf surrounded by a swirling disc of planet-building dust. NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope
World History Archive / Alamy Stock Photo
Image ID: D98KMY
Artist's impression showing a brown dwarf surrounded by a swirling disc of planet-building dust. NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope spotted such a disc around a surprisingly low-mass brown dwarf, or 'failed star.' The brown dwarf, called OTS 44, is only 15 times the size of Jupiter, making it the smallest brown dwarf known to host a planet-forming, or protoplanetary disc. Astronomers believe that this unusual system will eventually spawn planets. If so, they speculate that OTS 44's disc has enough mass to make one small gas giant and a few Earth-sized rocky planets. OTS 44 is about 2 million years old.