Starting next Monday May 20th, nearly 150 astronomers from 16 different countries
will meet for 5 days at the Outrigger Waikoloa Beach Hotel on the Big Island
of Hawaii to present the latest results about worldwide research on brown dwarfs.
The meeting has the category of International Astronomical Union Symposium.
In fact, it is the first Symposium dedicated exclusively to brown dwarfs.

“Holding this Symposium would have been just a wild dream only 7 years ago,
when no brown dwarfs had been identified yet. We have indeed seen a lot of progress
in this field in a very short time, and now a dream is coming true” says Dr.
Eduardo Martin, chair of the Scientific Organizing Committee, and a junior faculty
member at the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy. Brown dwarfs are
a new kind of celestial object. They have properties intermediate between those
of stars and planets, and constitute a natural link between these two types
of classical objects. Due to slow gravitational contraction, they emit a dim
glow of light, which can only be detected with powerful telescopes, such as
those located atop Mauna Kea.

The conference attendees will debate current ideas about how brown dwarfs form
and evolve. It is currently unclear whether brown dwarfs form directly from
molecular clouds in a manner similar to stars, or whether they form out of circumstellar
disks, in a similar way as planets are thought to form. Discoveries of brown
dwarfs in star-forming regions, young open clusters, the solar neighborhood,
and around stars and other brown dwarfs, are expected to be reported on during
the meeting.

One special session, chaired by Dr. Alan Boss of the Carnegie Institution of
Washington, will be dedicated to delineating the boundary between brown dwarfs
and giant planets. Scientists have not reached a consensus yet about what should
be called a brown dwarf and what should be called a planet. The Brown Dwarfs
Symposium provides a unique opportunity to discuss the scientific terminology
for substellar objects. The invited panel members are: Prof. Shiv Kumar, emeritus
professor of the University of Virginia and president of The Galileo Institute,
who first predicted the existence of very-low-mass objects unable to sustain
hydrogen-burning thermonuclear reactions in 1962; Prof. Gibor Basri of the University
of California at Berkeley, co-discoverer of the first double Brown Dwarf; Dr.
Jim Liebert of the University of Arizona Steward Observatory, co-discoverer
of many nearby Brown Dwarf neighbors to our Sun; Dr. Didier Queloz of the Geneva
Observatory in Switzerland, co-discoverer of the first extrasolar planet around
a normal star; Dr. Bo Reipurth of the UH Institute for Astronomy; and Dr. Maria
Rosa Zapatero Osorio of the Laboratory for Fundamental Astrophysics in Madrid,
Spain, co-discoverer of one of the first brown dwarfs.

The Brown Dwarfs Symposium is hosted by the Institute for Astronomy, University
of Hawaii, in collaboration with the Subaru Telescope of the National Astronomical
Observatory of Japan; the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility; the British-Canadian-Dutch
Joint Astronomy Centre; and the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope Corporation.
NASA, the Hawaii Island Economic Development Board, the University of Hawaii
at Hilo Conference Center, and the Hawaii Tourism Authority have sponsored the

Members of the press and news media are invited to attend all sessions of the
Symposium at no cost. They are asked to check in at the Conference Registration
Desk at the Outrigger Waikoloa Beach Hotel in order to obtain Symposium materials
and other information of interest. More information about the Brown Dwarfs Symposium
is available at


An image of the Orion nebula region where dozens of newborn brown dwarfs have
been spotted indicating that these objects are very numerous in Nature. The
image was provided by J.-C. Cuillandre of the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope
Corporation, which is one of the hosts of the Brown Dwarfs Symposium, and it
is available at:

A high-resolution version is available at

A caption for this picture: The Horsehead Nebula in the emission nebula IC
434, where dozens of newborn brown dwarfs have been spotted, indicating that
these objects are very numerous in nature.

You have permission for 1 time use that must accompany an article about IAU
211 Brown Dwarf Conference. Image credit copyright line should read: Copyright
by Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope/J.-C. Cuillandre/2001, all rights reserved.

The Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii conducts research into
galaxies, cosmology, stars, planets, and the Sun. Its faculty and staff are
also involved in astronomy education, deep space missions, and in the development
and management of the observatories on Haleakala and Mauna Kea. Refer to
for more information.