Companions of Stars: From Other Stars to Brown Dwarfs to Planets and the Discovery of the First Methane Brown Dwarf

  • Ben R. OppenheimerEmail author
Part of the Astrophysics and Space Science Library book series (ASSL, volume 401)


The discovery of the first methane brown dwarf provides a framework for describing the important advances in both fundamental physics and astrophysics that are due to the study of companions of stars. I present a few highlights of the history of this subject along with details of the discovery of the brown dwarf Gliese 229B. The nature of companions of stars is discussed with an attempt to avoid biases induced by anthropocentric nomenclature. With the newer types of remote reconnaissance of nearby stars and their systems of companions, an exciting and perhaps even more profound set of contributions to science is within reach in the near future. This includes an exploration of the diversity of planets in the universe and perhaps soon the first solid evidence for biological activity outside our Solar System.


White Dwarf Proper Motion Binary Star Nearby Star Primary Star 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The work described regarding Gliese 229B involved many people other than myself and I am deeply grateful for having been able to work with Tadashi Nakajima, Sam Durrance, Shri Kulkarni, Dave Golimowski, Keith Matthews and Marten van Kerkwijk. It was an honor to conduct such work with them. Project 1640 also involves a great team of collaborators. Further information on them and that project can be found at


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AstrophysicsAmerican Museum of Natural HistoryNew YorkUSA

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