Two new brown dwarfs have been discovered relatively close to to our solar system. Spotted by astronomers from the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP), the "failed stars"* are only 15 and 18 light-years from the sun.
15 and 18 light-years may not seem that close - after all, the nearest bona fide star to the sun, red dwarf Proxima Centauri, is a mere four light-years away. But if these discoveries continue it may not be long until a brown dwarf, and not Proxima, is found to be our nearest stellar neighbor.
These two brown dwarfs, called WISE J0254+0223 and WISE J1741+2553, are in addition to the AIP team's 2003 discovery of another two brown dwarfs orbiting the star Epsilon Indi, 12 light-years from Earth. This new double discovery was made during analysis of recently published data from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE).
The new objects, radiating brightly in infrared wavelengths, grabbed the team's attention as both are moving at high speed across the sky - this was an indication that they may be fairly close to us. Later, their close vicinity was confirmed after comparing their color and magnitude with other known brown dwarfs.