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Astronomers Discover the Coolest Known Sub-Stellar Body

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the miles-davis's-home-planet dept.

Space 60

Hugh Pickens writes "Science Daily reports that using the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope (UKIRT) in Hawaii, astronomers have discovered what may be the coolest sub-stellar body ever found outside our own solar system. Too small to be stars and with insufficient mass to maintain hydrogen-burning nuclear fusion reactions in their cores, 'brown dwarfs' have masses smaller than stars but larger than gas giant planets like Jupiter, with an upper limit in between 75 and 80 Jupiter masses. 'This looks like the fourth time in three years that the UKIRT has made a record breaking discovery of the coolest known brown dwarf, with an estimated temperature not far above 200 degrees Celsius,' says Dr. Philip Lucas at the University of Hertfordshire. Due to their low temperature these objects are very faint in visible light, and are detected by their glow at infrared wavelengths. The object known as SDSS1416+13B is in a wide orbit around a somewhat brighter and warmer brown dwarf, SDSS1416+13A, and the pair is located between 15 and 50 light years from the solar system, which is quite close in astronomical terms."

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first piss (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30963784)

i bot

I'm sure (1)

More_Cowbell (957742) | more than 4 years ago | (#30963874)

I'm sure there is a joke in here somewhere involving aliens and mood lighting...

Re:I'm sure (2, Funny)

ozbird (127571) | more than 4 years ago | (#30966576)

"Coolest known sub-stellar body? Obviously they haven't met my wife."

Re:I'm sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30982096)

I was more thinking of the Fonz...

It's the new coolest sub-stellar body (1)

The Archon V2.0 (782634) | more than 4 years ago | (#30963882)

But I'm still the awesomest sub-stellar body.

(Puts on shades.)

Yeah.

Coolest? (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 4 years ago | (#30963902)

Brown dwarfs stars are cooler than some of the (exo)planets found already?

Re:Coolest? (1)

Mornedhel (961946) | more than 4 years ago | (#30964454)

I was thinking of this, too... Don't planets and other smaller bodies count as sub-stellar bodies ?

Re:Coolest? (3, Interesting)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#30964538)

I think that by "sub-stellar body" they mean something not orbiting a star.

BTW as most of the exoplanets found so far orbit very close to their stars and so are rather hot ("hot jupiters") it is likely that this thing is cooler than most of them.

Re:Coolest? (0)

dziban303 (540095) | more than 4 years ago | (#30965302)

I think that by "sub-stellar body" they mean something not orbiting a star.

From the summary (not even the article!): "The object known as SDSS1416+13B is in a wide orbit around a somewhat brighter and warmer brown dwarf, SDSS1416+13A"

Obviously you're literate in the most basic sense. So why not put that ability to use, genius?

Re:Coolest? (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#30965370)

A brown dwarf [wikipedia.org] is not a star.

Re:Coolest? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30965596)

You're whacko if you think that brown dwarves can't orbit stars.

Re:Coolest? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#30967508)

You're whacko if you think that brown dwarves can't orbit stars.

So what? The previous poster did not make this claim.

Re:Coolest? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30969988)

Yes he did. Learn to read, fuckface.

Re:Coolest? (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 4 years ago | (#30965826)

I think that by "sub-stellar body" they mean something not orbiting a star.

From the summary (not even the article!): "The object known as SDSS1416+13B is in a wide orbit around a somewhat brighter and warmer brown dwarf, SDSS1416+13A"

Obviously you're literate in the most basic sense. So why not put that ability to use, genius?

Alas, it's not clear that you are literate in even the most basic sense. XD

Re:Coolest? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#30971338)

a somewhat brighter and warmer brown dwarf

A russet gnome?

Scientists confirming what everybody already knows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30963912)

It's Fonzi, right?

(pre-shark, of course)

Re:Scientists confirming what everybody already kn (4, Funny)

JustOK (667959) | more than 4 years ago | (#30964210)

Zaphod Beeblebrox

Re:Scientists confirming what everybody already kn (3, Funny)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 4 years ago | (#30964328)

He's just this guy.. 'ya know?

Re:Scientists confirming what everybody already kn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30968654)

No. Just no. Hitchhiker sucks. Badly. Nothing about it is cool. Nothing about it is funny. its not intelligent, not cleaver. Comedy is about two things, timing and knowing the limits of a joke. If you push a joke too little its not funny. If you push a joke too far, its not funny. Hitchhiker takes the joke beyond funny to the point where it not only beats the dead horse, it saddles it up and tries to ride it painfully unaware that the the horse is dead. Monty Python knows the horse is dead and lets you know that it knows the horse is dead and then beats the guy trying to beat the horse. That's funny. That's not Hitchhiker. Its just painful to see so many smart people be so freaking clueless when it comes to what is and is not good comedy.

Re:Scientists confirming what everybody already kn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30969070)

You is good comedy.

Re:Scientists confirming what everybody already kn (1)

Svartalfar (867908) | more than 4 years ago | (#30970798)

Have you ever thought that maybe if all these smart people think it's good comedy... you might just be wrong? Or maybe, just maybe, different people have different senses of humor. One very different than yours?

Re:Scientists confirming what everybody already kn (1)

ChrisMaple (607946) | more than 4 years ago | (#30966368)

It's Gary Coleman

I wonder (1)

EgNagRah (1650283) | more than 4 years ago | (#30963918)

What would a brown dwarf do if it passed close by to earth... since they are hard to detect I can assume we wouldn't see it coming. Would it possible be able to cause the earth to spew out a moon? http://www.physorg.com/news183884450.html?xid=rss-fullcontent [physorg.com]

Re:I wonder (1)

BigSlowTarget (325940) | more than 4 years ago | (#30964000)

All depends on how close it is and what it masses. True for any body that passed by that wasn't radiating so much it would vaporize the place.

Re:I wonder (1)

BigSlowTarget (325940) | more than 4 years ago | (#30964018)

Oops - and it's velocity of course.

Re:I wonder (1)

mister_playboy (1474163) | more than 4 years ago | (#30964046)

An object with 75 to 80 times the mass of Jupiter passing through the Solar System would cause way more chaos than that. Trust me, you'd be well aware of its presence.

Re:I wonder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30965218)

As I understand it, the Moon was formed when a Mars-sized body collided with proto-Earth, dumping its iron core and some matter into our own planet. The rest bounced back into space and settled in an orbit around the Earth.

If a brown dwarf were to collide with the Earth it would be completely destroyed. It would be as if Earth fell into Jupiter or the Sun.

Re:I wonder (1)

tragedy (27079) | more than 4 years ago | (#30965996)

I was always of the understanding that most of the mass for the moon came not from some of the mars sized mass that hit earth rebounding, but instead from the opposite side of the earth from the impact. Sort of like a Newtons cradle. So, mars sized mass hits earth and some of it does break up and maybe end up as part of the moon, but most of it just gets swallowed by earth, the shockwave blows off a huge piece of the earth on a similar trajectory some of which returns to earth and the rest of which accumulates into the moon.

Re:I wonder (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 4 years ago | (#30965876)

What would a brown dwarf do if it passed close by to earth... since they are hard to detect I can assume we wouldn't see it coming.

Um, it would be a lot easier to see coming than the planet Jupiter. What makes a brown dwarf hard to detect is that it's not close to a star (if it was, it would be a large exoplanet instead). Obviously it one was passing close by Earth, it would be close to a star (the Sun) and would be extremely easy to detect. "Impossible to miss" would be a better description. Depending on how close, it would likely be the brightest object in the sky, visible in broad daylight, for a few centuries before it got too close.

Not "brown dwarf" (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30963930)

That's "African-American little person".

Re:Not "brown dwarf" (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30964048)

i once met a true African-American. he was a white South African person who was born in South Africa and later moved to the USA. American blacks are just a bunch of niggers who have never been to Africa. you can always tell, because blacks who are actually from Africa are really down to earth, usually pleasant to be around and talk to, and don't have the chip on their shoulder the way American blacks do. if it's acceptable to call me white and not Anglo-Irish-English-American, then I will continue calling them black and not African-American, and that's the equality they claim to want. end of story.

y'know... (1)

kaini (1435765) | more than 4 years ago | (#30964164)

that *is* pretty cool.

What's the bigger news here? (2, Interesting)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 4 years ago | (#30964194)

Given brown dwarfs generally have no heat source, they cool quickly and we expect there to be cold ones out there. Is the bigger news the fact that we could detect this cool object, or the information gained by finding this brown dwarf?

Hm? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30964260)

I didn't know my bowel movements were considered sub-stellar bodies.

So... (3, Funny)

drej (1663541) | more than 4 years ago | (#30964394)

So Fonzie is now a body in outer space?

Re:So... (2, Funny)

blue l0g1c (1007517) | more than 4 years ago | (#30966012)

Yeah, when he jumped the shark, he escaped Earth's gravity.

So? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30964458)

Shouldn't they be looking for the hottest stellar body, if you know what I mean?

These should be common (2, Interesting)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#30964464)

I know we can't make too many assumptions, but I think common sense would indicate there's trillions of these things floating out there. I would think there's more of these in the galaxy than stars, if you just continue the mass/frequency curve past the point that fusion ignites.

Re:These should be common (2, Interesting)

clyde_cadiddlehopper (1052112) | more than 4 years ago | (#30964668)

What percentage of dark matter would these account for? Or is the mass of these sub-stellar objects already included in gravitational models of galaxies?

Re:These should be common (2, Informative)

Tim C (15259) | more than 4 years ago | (#30965620)

0; dark matter isn't normal matter that we just can't see, it's an entirely different form of matter (at least according to the theory).

Re:These should be common (1)

clyde_cadiddlehopper (1052112) | more than 4 years ago | (#30965722)

Thank you. I should've known the distinction between baryonic dark matter [wikipedia.org] (not-glowing-ordinary-proton-and-neutron-stuff) and the spooky kind that doesn't interact with light.

Re:These should be common (1)

Urkki (668283) | more than 4 years ago | (#30973100)

0; dark matter isn't normal matter that we just can't see, it's an entirely different form of matter (at least according to the theory).

Actually "dark matter" refers to an matter we don't see. So brown dwarfs etc. (that are sufficiently far to be undetectable) qualify as dark matter. But current understanding is, that baryonic dark matter (ie. brown dwarfs and stuff) is tiny fraction of non-baryonic dark matter, which is what you're talking about above.

Re:These should be common (2, Informative)

Eudial (590661) | more than 4 years ago | (#30965140)

I know we can't make too many assumptions, but I think common sense would indicate there's trillions of these things floating out there. I would think there's more of these in the galaxy than stars, if you just continue the mass/frequency curve past the point that fusion ignites.

That's a pretty common astrophysical assumption though, that the universe is homogenous and isotropic [wikipedia.org] . Or in simpler words, our corner of space is not significantly different from any other corner of space. So if we find these guys floating around in space, similar objects will likely float around elsewhere as well.

This calls for a facepalm. (1)

SilverHatHacker (1381259) | more than 4 years ago | (#30964504)

Re:This calls for a facepalm. (1)

hldn (1085833) | more than 4 years ago | (#30964898)

double facepalm to those that thought 'sub-stellar body' meant it was kinda tubby.

Isn't Jupiter cooler? (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30964826)

I mean if Jupiter’s surface temperature is below 200 degrees Celsius (and i bet it is), and since it’s also a brown dwarf (even with nuclear reactions going on in its core), shouldn’t it be even cooler?
Also, what about Saturn, Neptune and Uranus, who just as much count as brown dwarfs, since they are mainly built like a star.

Re:Isn't Jupiter cooler? (0, Flamebait)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#30965402)

> I mean if Jupiter's surface temperature is below 200 degrees Celsius (and i
> bet it is)...

165K (defining "surface" as "1 bar pressure level")

> ...and since it's also a brown dwarf...

No it isn't.

Re:Isn't Jupiter cooler? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30965472)

Yeah but all of those object are not "outside our own solar system". If they were, they would be very hard to detect.

Re:Isn't Jupiter cooler? (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 4 years ago | (#30965982)

I mean if Jupiter’s surface temperature is below 200 degrees Celsius (and i bet it is), and since it’s also a brown dwarf...

Jupiter is not a brown dwarf. It orbits the Sun.

Also, what about Saturn, Neptune and Uranus, who just as much count as brown dwarfs,

Correct, insofar as "just as much count" correctly notes that none of these bodies are brown dwarves.

... since they are mainly built like a star.

How something is built does not alone define its astronomical classification. If the Earth orbited a gas giant, it would be a moon rather than a planet. If Titan did not orbit Saturn but orbited the Sun, it would be a planet, not a moon. If Jupiter would flying free through interstellar space with no star to orbit, it would be a brown dwarf. But in fact, it is not.

Re:Isn't Jupiter cooler? (0, Flamebait)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#30966490)

> If Jupiter would flying free through interstellar space with no star to
> orbit, it would be a brown dwarf.

No it wouldn't.

Fonz (1)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 4 years ago | (#30964840)

Since it's the coolest known, if Fonzie doesn't already have a sub-stellar body named after him, this one should be it.

Too Hot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30964866)

200 celcius? Thats way too hot to be called cool.

Aren't some of the further out gas giants in this solar system Like Neptune more like 200 Kelvin.

What about Uranus? I know mine is about 310 kelvin :)

Unimpressed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30964956)

Us /.ers have known about Chuck Norris for years!

The coolest! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30967458)

I went to highschool with this guy. He actually used to be a total nerd.

Funny they don't know far it is (1)

physburn (1095481) | more than 4 years ago | (#30967720)

Actually there are suspected to be more brown drawfs, failed stars with not enough gas for fusion , in the galaxy than there will be normal stars. If thats so they should be many (tens) brown drawfs within ten light years of us. Brown drawfs of course are so very dim, that its very difficult to spot them at all. But UKIRT is any all sky survey that will take years to complete, and we can expect them to find a lot more brown drawfs.

---

Astronomy [feeddistiller.com] Feed @ Feed Distiller [feeddistiller.com]

Re:Funny they don't know far it is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30967856)

I wonder what happens when Brown Dwarves collide. I'm such a schmutz when it comes to these things. Even though they really do pique my interest.

Cool! (1)

ianalis (833346) | more than 4 years ago | (#30967880)

:)

Off-topic (1)

Petrushka (815171) | more than 4 years ago | (#30968088)

Posting to remove an erroneous moderation.

What a sight... (1)

MattBD (1157291) | more than 4 years ago | (#30970086)

A system of brown dwarfs (dwarves?) like this must be an awesome sight, although I expect this one is probably too widely separated to be all that spectacular. But the idea of a gas giant/brown dwarf so large it has planets the size of Jupiter as moons is pretty staggering.
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