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Beyond Earthly Skies

A Very Dim and Cool Brown Dwarf

6 Sep 2013, 22:00 UTC
A Very Dim and Cool Brown Dwarf Robert Hurt
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In a paper submitted to the astrophysical Journal on 25 August 2013, Kirkpatrick et al. (2013) present the discovery of an interesting nearby brown dwarf using data from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) satellite. This particular brown dwarf is very cold and very low mass; and it is designated as WISE 0647-6232. Observations by the Hubble Space Telescope confirm WISE 0647-6232 to be a Y dwarf. A brown dwarf is an object too small to be a star, but formed as stars are. Brown dwarfs are categorized according to the spectral types - M, L, T and Y, with Y dwarfs being the coldest class. In fact, Y dwarfs can be cold enough for water clouds to condense in their upper atmosphere. For Y dwarfs colder than ~350 K, water clouds may be a dominant atmospheric feature.An artist’s rendition shows the relative sizes and likely appearance from left to right of the Sun, a very cool star, a warm brown dwarf, a cooler brown dwarf, and finally Jupiter; as how they might appear through an infrared camera. Credit: Robert Hurt.Combining imaging data from the Spitzer Space Telescope, HST and WISE, the distance of WISE 0647-6232 is estimated to be ...

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