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Artist's illustration of a brown dwarf. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Scientists have discovered the three fastest spinning "failed stars" yet found, suggesting there might be a speed limit to how fast they can rotate.

The big picture: These objects — called brown dwarfs — are thought to be "failed stars" that didn't collect enough mass to ignite fusion in their cores needed to be considered a star and too large to be a gas giant planet like Jupiter.

  • By learning more about these fast-moving brown dwarfs, researchers hope to figure out more about their evolution and formation.

What they found: A new study in the Astronomical Journal shows that the three brown dwarfs each rotate fully about once per hour despite being in very different environments.

  • Researchers think that if these brown dwarfs rotated faster than this "speed limit," it might cause them to break apart.
  • "It would be pretty spectacular to find a brown dwarf rotating so fast it is tossing its atmosphere out into space," Megan Tannock, an author of the new study, said in a NASA statement
  • "But so far, we haven’t found such a thing. I think that must mean that either something is slowing the brown dwarfs down before they hit that extreme or that they can’t get that fast in the first place."

The intrigue: The new study also shows that old, out-of-service telescopes can find new life after death.

  • The researchers used data collected by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, which was turned off in January 2020, to find the spin rates of the brown dwarfs and then followed up with ground-based telescopes to gather more information.

Go deeper

School principals are not OK

Principal Alice Hom (purple jacket) of New York's Yung Wing School P.S. 124 near a vaccination van in November. Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

The overwhelming majority of secondary school principals experienced frequent stress last school year, according to a RAND Corporation report out Wednesday.

The big picture: The stress levels among female principals and principals of color were especially stark, with nearly 40% in these groups reporting constant job-related stress, compared to about 24% of male principals and 26% of white principals.

It's official: Stock market having worst start to year ever

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

It's been a decidedly ugly start to the year for the stock market, with particular pain in the tech trade.

State of play: As of the end of trading Tuesday — the 16th session of the year — 2022 is now, officially, the worst-ever start in the history of the S&P 500, according to data from Ned Davis Research, a stock market research shop.

Surprising pandemic side effect: Soaring trade deficits

Source: Census Bureau and Bureau of Economic Analysis; Chart: Axios Visuals

Inflation and jobs may get all the economic headlines, but meanwhile a big shift is taking place in the underpinnings of the world economy: The U.S. trade deficit is soaring.

What's happening: Americans' spending on imported physical goods has gone through the roof, while exports are growing slowly, making the U.S. the world's consumer of last resort.