Using NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer telescope, astronomers have finally spotted a collection of ultra-cool brown dwarfs they have been hunting for more than a decade. These tepid almost-star orbs are nearly impossible to see with a normal telescope, but WISE's infrared vision was able to pick them out.
The coldest one ever found is about room temperature, with a reading of less than 80 degrees. That brown dwarf, a Y-class dwarf called WISE 1828+2650, is the green dot in the image below.
Brown dwarfs, sometimes called failed stars, got their name because astronomers didn't know what color they would have in the visible spectrum. Some classes of brown dwarfs would actually look more reddish than brown, according to NASA. Scientists don't know what color a Y dwarf would actually be if it was visible — the image above is purple for artistic reasons.
They start out the same way as a normal star, collapsing under their own weight. But they don't have enough mass to ignite thermonuclear fusion at their cores, so they cool and fade after their birth. Their atmospheres are more like Jupiter's than a star's, and this makes them very hard to find in deep space.
Astronomers have 10 classifications for stars, starting with the hottest: O, B, A, F, G, K, M, L, T, and now Y. The sun is a G-class star, in case you were counting. Objects O through K are considered stars; M and L are mixes of brown dwarfs and stars; and T and now Y are all brown dwarfs.
"The brown dwarfs we were turning up before this discovery were more like the temperature of your oven," said Davy Kirkpatrick, a WISE science team member, in a NASA news release. "With the discovery of Y dwarfs, we've moved out of the kitchen and into the cooler parts of the house."
In all, WISE found 100 new brown dwarfs, including six Y dwarfs that were all between nine and 40 light years away from our sun. The Y dwarf called WISE 1541-2250 is only nine light years away, so it might become the seventh-closest star system to us, knocking Ross 154 to the eighth spot, NASA said. And there are probably plenty of others, so WISE will keep looking for even closer stellar neighbors.
A report on the six brown dwarfs appears in the Astrophysical Journal.
Did we think this was a planet before? Or did we not even know that these things existed (these specific stars)? Could this explain where some of the "missing" mass in the universe is located?
@ToomeyND Quite possibly. Since there is such a high quantity of so-called dark matter, and it exists between galaxies, however, it is doubtful this would count as a significnt portion.
It has, however, always bothered me that scientists see something missing and immediately attribute it all into some mysterious substance.
I wonder if liquid water could exist because of the temperature. Maybe some was deposited after the stars hotter younger days.
I understand that it would not be significant. That being said, I am with you on the second point.
The way you phrased it also makes me chuckle a bit considering the ridiculous (and mostly un-necessary) conversations regarding the existence of God on this website.
Do you think the stars talk to each other about their hotter, younger days?
Or does that only happen here on Earth?
@ToomeyND - Until the WISE survey, nothing this cool and distant would have been detected unless it was orbiting a "normal" star, where it would be seen only as a super-giant planet. It's as if Jupiter were wandering through space independent of the Sun (except, of course, WISE 1828+2650 is likely thousands of times larger than Jupiter).
If God exists, then He certainly exists on this website as well as everywhere else. ;-)
Great point. I didn't really think about that part of it.
Agreed on the second point, but He/She'd probably facepalm at the conversations here!
If this purple Brown Dwarf as the artist depicted has water in its gases, then it would be easy to suppose it has purple rain and the singer "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince\PRINCE", would adore this this Brown Dwarf.
They knew where it was from its gravity
"...Using NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer telescope, astronomers have finally spotted a collection of ultra-cool brown dwarfs they have been hunting for more than a decade. These tepid almost-star orbs are nearly impossible to see with a normal telescope, but WISE’s infrared vision was able to pick them out...."
They found this Brown Dwarf with the WISE’s infrared vision.
what I want to know is where the seemingly random letter system came from.
why learn from your own mistakes, when you could learn from the mistakes of others?
"....Stars are classified by their spectra (the elements that they absorb) and their temperature. There are seven main types of stars. In order of decreasing temperature, O, B, A, F, G, K, and M.
O and B stars are uncommon but very bright; M stars are common but dim..
An easy mnemonic for remembering these is: "Oh be a fine girl, kiss me."..."
This is the link I found this.
I suppose there is more detailed reason if you keep searching...
Has there been found any usefull meaning of crop circles, other than surprise! I am curious?
The Sun is only 10 times the radius of Jupiter, or 1000 times its volume (10³). A planet 60% more massive than Jupiter would be about the same size — its greater mass would compress it more — and at more than 60% it would get smaller, until it were sufficiently massive to be a proper star (red dwarf), expanded by the heat from the core. The smallest red dwarf is only about 30% larger in radius than Jupiter. This star is too cool to be big.
Jupiter is as big as a planet of its age can be. It was bigger when younger — twice as big when it was formed, and is shrinking at 2cm yr¯¹.
This brown dwarf may be dark, but it isn’t dark matter. You are right to say “so-called” — dark as in dark matter means it doesn’t interact with light, transparent would be a more accurate description.
Quote from article about different brown dwarves:
“At such temperatures [100°C] we expect the brown dwarf to have properties that are different from previously known brown dwarfs and much closer to those of giant exoplanets — it could even have water clouds in its atmosphere”
~ Michael Liu of the University of Hawaii's Institute for Astronomy.
They haven’t detected its gravity — they haven’t even measured its mass. They have found a binary pair of brown dwarves which will enable them to measure the mass of the pair … after about 10 years of monitoring.
It would be a mistake not to learn from the mistakes of others — which you could learn from.
The earth is a brown dwarf.
Ok, I vaguely understand that brown dwarves undergo some amount of electron degeneracy which distinguishes them from planets. But they don't undergo fusion and they have a thermodynamic profile similar to a planet... Why are these not just planets or even a creature unto themselves?
Do they not have the metallic hydrogen cores of Jupiter-like gas giants? Are their emissions just completely different from your Jupiter-like gas giants with minimal radiation or somesuch?
I've just never seen a really logical explanation for why these things aren't just weird planets or something other than stars or planets. It's sort of in the category of "arbitrary astronomy stuff", like if Pluto and Ceres aren't planets, can't we say a brown dwarf doesn't count as a star?
Maybe I'm just suffering under the delusion that astronomy uses a logical taxonomy.
Astronomy, like other practices, are filled with people who want to get there names written in history for something ground breaking.
You can classify stars and planets based on simple and complex parameters. The debate over classification should come over the obvious.
Eris, Ceres, Pluto, and Makemake are considered dwarf planets, however the majority of the hundreds of planets discovered around other stars are Jovian. By academic standards Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars should also fall in the same category.
This Y class of Dwarfs can not truly be classified as planets based on three parameters; how they form, their size, and their behavior.
Planets are the constructed remnants of star formation. A star has to exist before a planet is born. Planets do not form in empty space from stellar material (at least based on what we know).
For this let's look at the 'dwarf planet.' Pluto and the others get this classification because they simply do not meet the size standards that would constitute the designation of a full planet close to the size of Earth (our eternal point of reference). However their orbits do not take them on the same trajectories as rogue asteroids or comets. They move along the same plane as the rest of the planets. because of their unique position the only question is whether to classify them as a planet or planetoid (planet sized asteroid; the term is real) as they are either Prime belt objects or Kuiper belt objects (Prime seems like an appropriate more discriptive name than just the Asteroid Belt).
If they are planets then every other small rocky body orbiting a star must be reclassified into a dwarf planet for one cosmic reason; the theory that gaseous jovian worlds are more common than the small rocky ones making their size classifications based on Jupiter (our eternal jovian point of reference) a base reference for what a planet is.
Y Dwarfs may not be entirely believeable as stars, but you just have to consider the fact that they form from stellar dust, reach a particular size and behave in a fashion that warrants stellar designation.
If these Y dwarves have atmosphere's like Jupiter, would it be a stretch to say that maybe Jupiter IS a Y dwarf, a failed star? Maybe the Sol system had the potential to be a binary system, but the second sun (jupiter) never lit up?
Even as a child learning about Jupiter I couldn't help but try to deduce the difference between the gas giant and the star, besides the obvious. Jupiter gives off more heat than than it absorbs from the sun and it is shrinking by 2cm a year, it is estimated that it was twice as large when it was formed than it is today, which would have made it larger than the smallest red dwarf.
I wondered as a child if setting off a nuke on Jupiter would ignite it and keep it burning for a while or just burn it out super quick.
Playing Devil's Advocate since 1978
"The only constant in the universe is change"
-Heraclitus of Ephesus 535 BC - 475 BC
@CodeZero, they already tried that when they crashed the Cassini probes into Saturn, setting of nuclear explosions, the 3 black spots that the explosions left can be seen from earth.
Over 50% of all visible star systems are binary. So Jupiter could be a failed star or, maybe there is a red dwarf that our sun is orbiting around and we don’t even know it.
@Aldrons Last Hope, Speaking of brown dwarf suns we cannot see, perhaps the Samarians are right after all and there is a 12 planet, but it’s really far with a wide obit and hard to see. And if there is an advance civilization on the 12 planet with extreme stealth technology, we never notice the planet until it passes right in front of EARTH, maybe around December 21st 2012 we may learn more. But this date comes from a Mayan calendar and not Samarian. Do you think a 1000 year or more advance civilization ahead of us could successfully hide if they wanted too? Our technology has all kinds of stealth, but as we hear of close encounters with aliens on earth, our public officials just laugh and say they are crazy. Still, we continue to look to the stars, don’t we.. It was crazy talk or even heiracy for a long while to even suggest the earth was not flat or not the center of the universe. They write a lot now days that the Samarians are the beginning of civilization, and conveniently forget South America, Africa, China and Japan and many other countries. Our minds everyday is filled with such mainstream western program crap. It’s hard to find the truth about anything really. Politics and the Winning Government or Nation who writes the history books has such a influence on how we think. I really do enjoy the internet. I think its opening people’s minds to all of the earth, its history and science, religion, stars, aliens and a like. People can really search and learn farther now, see past their local history books and politics.. Still it’s always good to do a walk about and learn firsthand too.
So here is my issue. Is it more likely that 80% of the universe is made up of a mysterious mass not found near in our solar system, or any number of other possibilities. I do not have all of the data so perhaps the scientists saying 80% have some valid reason to see it as more likely than these or other explanations.
Possibility 1) Perhaps the "big bang" was not the formation of our universe, but more a "super nova" of a galaxy, causing the galaxies to compress and form. Offering up energy that has sense moved on.
Possibility 2) There are a lot more small masses between the solar systems that previously calculated.
Possibility 3) The core of our galaxy is a lot denser than we thought.
Possibility 4) Several black holes sucked away all the formation energy in the more dense packed areas of the galaxy.
Possibility 5) Our calculations for gravity are wrong. Seriously we only have a sample of gravity in a fairly dense area (considering the universe and distance between galaxies our solar system is very dense). Perhaps the density makes a much bigger difference in gravity that we thought. If it is the only mass in 100 light lights, maybe something with a mass that would weight a ton on earth could have the same gravitational effect as a small planet in deep space.
I personally see most of these more acceptable explanations. Some of these are testable, others maybe not. I do know that just because it doesn't make sense to me, the scientists may have explanations why their idea is more sound. So if I ever care enough about it I will start digging in deeper to find the answers before calling them crazy. After all quantum mechanics sounds like fairy tales, yet we use it in modern technology.
Here is my issue, lol, too. If an alien race was say 1000 times or more smarter than humans, does smart make you better at ethics or morals? Could the aliens be the same as us in our own human mistakes, frailties, ethics and morals? Could there be a small percentage aliens that are mischievous;- why, because they can. Could there be a small percentage of smart aliens that are bad and could care less of the penalty from its own society? Could wonderful sweet kind aliens be amongst us and hidden from view; 100% stealthy. Could a few semi good aliens take a joy ride on a space ship over a city on earth and turn off their cloaking devices say 10% to see the humans run about and point at the sky? Could bad things happen on earth, because some aliens just enjoy seeing bad things happen?
If we can statistically imagine highly intelligent aliens in space, there is no reason to believe they want to be found, they are good, bad or different morally than ourselves.
We humans could just be bugs to look at under their microscope.
As you walked into a office building, did you worry you stepped on a ant on the way in and if you notice it, did you care? How much smarter are you than that ant? Does being intelligent stop you from hurting other animals?
roughly 70% dark energy, 25% dark matter, and 5% everything else which includes brown dwarfs, they just had not imaged a room temp one before, although they knew they were present, ALL the evidence strongly points towards these percentages being correct, new discoveries will be made as always but more than likely won't deviate much from these figures, the daydreaming posts on here are amusing at best but are not even close to what is actually out there or the new discoveries to be found
@drchuck1, if most of the time you sit in the dark and it doesn't matter, then I suppose the rest of your life dwarfs by comparison. While you sit in the dark, all evidenced points to it being warm and comfortable. New discoveries will be made, but you will continue to not change and sit in the dark. The comments you read and learn about do amuse you, but you prefer to look to the stars for more interesting discoveries.
Do I understand you correctly sir?
@BubbaGump, that’s a possibility. Planet X may be orbiting our sister star. It doesn’t need a civilization on it to have a destructive effect on earth. If the sister sun’s orbit comes into our solar system, then it would disrupt everything, changing our orbits, knocking planets around, causing the sun to react….it was would be devastating. This sister star could be what the Sumerians, Aztecs, and Mayans have been warning us about.
They say “recorded” history starts with the Sumerians , they say they invented the 1st 100 tenants of civilization, including math, art, law, architecture, farming, etc etc. Thing is there were civilizations thousands of years before them…eg, the sphinx in Egypt is proven by geologists to be over 10,000 BC years old, it was made when the Sahara was grasslands. Or the monuments in Peru, that were aligned with the stars of 12,000 BC. Or check out the underwater cities found in Japan, that’s at least 10,000 BC. The history in history books are more about recent history. Most archeologists don’t want to look at this stuff because it’s too scary for them, it doesn’t fit in their paradigm.
As far as alien races, there could be alien races out there, but why would they contact earth? We are ass backwards on this planet, we can’t function as one yet. When we are spiritually ready we might be accepted.
As far as good or bad..if aliens landed here, started claiming the earth as their own, waged war on us, interbred with us, took all of our resources, wiped us out with new diseases, then banished us to live in Antarctica in special habitats, then made sure we were all hooked on some new amazing drug. Would that be bad? I mean we deserved it right? We are ass backwards savages that wage war every chance we get, and we are not even capable of flying to another star system. Are they good or bad? Well was Christopher Columbus good or bad? Cause he did the same thing and he’s a hero.
@Aldrons Last Hope, as our human scientist find different animals useful and interesting too study, so maybe the space aliens as they study humans. Plus they only land on earth, should they need a resource, otherwise is study from a far.
In the past, our visiting alien friend was treated like GODS. So they could fly about and land and talk to us, without being harmed. We humans were in awe and mystified everything they did. The aliens could mine for gold in Southern Africa or Egypt and mine for minerals in South America too. To get the help of the natives they worked with the currently religious belief system and built some monolithic structures with their own tools to inspire them and keep them at bay. They even taught us humans about the stars and gave us language and a calendar.
But here are modern times. A large quantity of us are literate, technology savvy and posses a lot of WEAPONS. Our military are extremely watchful as well. So now currently the aliens only show themselves in the tiniest stealthiest way.
Just ask yourself the question of what a local government would do to find an unidentified aircraft in their space; they chase it and if it does not respond, they would fire upon it. Aliens are around us, but they are forced by our technology advancement to stay stealthy. Thousands of years ago they had no fear of being caught and dissected like a lab rat. But today, I am sure the fear is real of being biology studied under a microscope or dissection table.
Finally, if they aliens wanted us gone, it would only take a well planted virus, wait and let the wind blow for year or so and come back to claim the land. Perhaps we humans help mine our resources in the past, so the aliens still find usefulness in humans for the future. The Aliens maybe holding back on taking over the earth, because of our bacteria, virus, fungus and gaseous earthly environment is hostile to them. Maybe they need us, still.