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NASA`s WISE and Spitzer telescopes help discover coldest "brown dwarf" known

Last Updated: Saturday, April 26, 2014 - 11:01

Washington: NASA`s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) and Spitzer Space Telescope have discovered what looks like the coldest "brown dwarf" known-a dim, star-like body that, surprisingly, is as frosty as Earth`s North Pole.

Images from the space telescopes also pinpointed the object`s distance to 7.2 light-years away, earning it the title for fourth closest system to our sun. The closest system, a trio of stars, is Alpha Centauri, at about 4 light-years away.
"It`s very exciting to discover a new neighbor of our solar system that is so close," Kevin Luhman, an astronomer at Pennsylvania State University`s Center for Exoplanets and Habitable Worlds, University Park said.

"And given its extreme temperature, it should tell us a lot about the atmospheres of planets, which often have similarly cold temperatures," he said.

Brown dwarfs start their lives like stars, as collapsing balls of gas, but they lack the mass to burn nuclear fuel and radiate starlight.
The newfound coldest brown dwarf is named WISE J085510.83-071442.5. It has a chilly temperature between minus 54 and 9 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 48 to minus 13 degrees Celsius).

Previous record holders for coldest brown dwarf s, also found by WISE and Spitzer, were about room temperature.

First Published: Saturday, April 26, 2014 - 11:01
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