'Mini-Me' Solar System.
© National Aeronautics & Space Administration / Science & Society
This artist's conception shows the relative size of a hypothetical brown dwarf-planetary system compared to our own solar system. A brown dwarf is a cool or "failed" star, which lacks the mass to ignite and shine like our Sun. NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope set its infrared eyes on an extraordinarily low-mass brown dwarf called OTS 44 and found a swirling disk of planet-building dust. At only 15 times the mass of Jupiter, OTS 44 is the smallest known brown dwarf to host a planet-forming, or protoplanetary, disk.