NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) and Spitzer Space Telescope have discovered what
appears to be “brown dwart’A brown-dwarf is a dim, star-like body that emits small amounts of heat
and light. It is named,”WISE J085510.83-071442.5″. What is peculiar about this brown dwarf is that it
would be the coldest brown dwarf known, being as frosty as our North Pole.
The brown dwarf appears to be very close to Earth and is thought to be 7.2 light-years away, earning
it the title for fourth closest planetary system to our Sun. This is a newly discovered neighbour of our
solar. Brown dwarfs start their lives like stars, as collapsing balls of gas, but they lack enough material
to properly ignite like our Sun.
The brown dwarf has a chilly temperature between -48°C to minus -13°C. Previous record holders for
the coldest brown dwarfs, also found by WISE and Spitzer, were about room temperature.
WISE was able to spot these rare objects because it studied the entire sky three times sometimes
looking at areas twice.
Colder objects like brown dwarfs can be hard to see as they don’t give off much heat or light.
Spotting the brown dwarf taken from different positions from Earth while travelling around the Sun,
means calculations could be done to determine how far away it is from Earth. The closest stars to
Earth are a trio of stars called Alpha Centauri and these are about 4 light-years away. The brown dwarf
is only a few light years farther than that and appears to be 3 to 10 times the size of Jupiter.
With such a low mass, it could be a gas giant similar to Jupiter. But scientists think it is probably a
brown dwarf rather than a planet since brown dwarfs are known to be fairly common. If this is correct
then it is the smallest brown dwarf known.
In March of 2013 WISE discovered a pair of much warmer brown dwarfs at a distance of 6.5 light years,
making that system the third closest to the Sun.
NASA continues to search for objects in the night sky like these brown dwarfs. It has also been
demonstrated that our outer solar system probably does not contain a large, undiscovered planet,
which has been referred to in the past as “Planet X”or”Nemesis:’