Kevin Luhman is a professor of astronomy and astrophysics from Pennsylvania State University who is notable for having discovered both the third closest stellar system Luhman 16 and the fourth closest stellar system WISE 0855−0714 to the Sun. Both systems are actually made up of substellar objects (objects less massive than stars), falling into the category of brown dwarfs (Luhman 16) or even less massive objects (WISE 0855−0714) which are officially termed sub-brown dwarfs but also referred to as "free floating planets" or "planetary mass objects". WISE 0855−0714 (discovery published in 2014) is also the coldest massive object outside the solar system that has been directly imaged.
Luhman 16 now bears the discoverer's name following common practice for very nearby stars that have been discovered in modern times.
These discoveries were made through painstaking analysis of mid-infrared data from the WISE satellite, a NASA mission that mapped the entire sky and detected several hundred million stars. The satellite mapped the entire sky twice between January 2010 and January 2011, thereby providing 2 sets of images and coordinates for every star. The motions of the nearest stars over the 6 month interval between the two sets of observations were measurable, thereby enabling him to discover these new objects.
Luhman graduated from the University of Texas with a B.A. in astronomy and a B.S. in physics in 1993. He earned his Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Arizona in 1998.
- Close neighbor of sun discovered, Credit: Penn State, Published: March. 11, 2013 at 4:43 PM, UPI, http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2013/03/11/Close-neighbor-of-sun-discovered/UPI-90391363034633/#ixzz2NSZsSJ7m
- Penn State Professor Makes Historic Space Discovery, Credit: weareCentralPA.com, Published: April. 28 2014 at 11.24 PM, CENTRALPA http://www.wearecentralpa.com/story/d/story/penn-state-professor-makes-historic-space-discover/41518/YHU0zotiBkOTo7Q0iB-6Zg
- Eberly College of Science, Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics, Penn State University, http://www.astro.psu.edu/people/kll207
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