Washington: Researchers have mapped the surface of a brown dwarf - an object larger than a planet and smaller than a star - for the first time.
The team of European scientists carried out a pair of studies to analyze the atmosphere of the nearest brown dwarf to Earth, known as Luhman 16B, some 6.5 light-years from the Sun.
Researchers found that Luhman 16B has a complex structure of patchy clouds made up of droplets of liquid iron and other minerals, with temperatures in the clouds exceeding 1,000 degree Celsius.
In one study, led by the University of Edinburgh, the team observed changes in the brown dwarf`s brightness and were able to reconstruct what happens in different layers of its atmosphere.
In a second study, led by the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany and published in Nature, the team used an indirect imaging technique to directly map out a layer of clouds.
The study has been published in Astrophysical Journal Letters.