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Brown Dwarf Hits Record Low

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the bring-a-jacket dept.

Space 97

astroengine writes "The Keck II infrared telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, has spotted what appears to be the coldest brown dwarf ever detected. Astronomers from the University of Hawaii have managed to constrain its temperature to just shy of 100 degrees Celsius. The object is part of a brown dwarf binary system and is estimated to be 6-15 times the mass of Jupiter. This is an exciting object as it could belong to a so-far theoretical 'Y' class of brown dwarf, a classification that makes objects like this cool example more planet-like than star-like."

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97 comments

So maybe they can find water on it? (5, Interesting)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443468)

After all, at the pressures we're talking about, water would be liquid well above 100 degrees C.

Re:So maybe they can find water on it? (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443718)

What's the temp record for finding life near deep water geothermal vents?

Re:So maybe they can find water on it? (3, Informative)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443836)

Methanopyrus was found living happily at a depth of 2000 m at temperatures 84-110 C (183-230 F).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methanopyrus [wikipedia.org]

I think that's the record.

There's Strain 121 too, which sounds like a Star Trek alien name: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strain_121 [wikipedia.org]

Re:So maybe they can find water on it? (1)

BrentH (1154987) | more than 3 years ago | (#35444826)

Wouldn't that be the most badass micro organism, one that lives on a STAR? Damn, that would be interesting...

Re:So maybe they can find water on it? (2)

mikael (484) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445886)

Arthur C Clarke wrote a story about the Cheela in "Dragon's Egg?" Due to the strong gravitational field, they are only something like 5mm high.

Fascinating that in the gravity of a real neutron star, the atmosphere is going to be less that half a metre in height.

Re:So maybe they can find water on it? (1)

treeves (963993) | more than 3 years ago | (#35450480)

I don't remember what gravity was like there but in Edwin Abbott's Flatland creatures were nowhere near 5mm tall. They were 2-dimensional.

Re:So maybe they can find water on it? (1)

Quirkz (1206400) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443766)

I was thinking, that's basically just boiling water temperature (here on Earth) and also if I remember right that's actually cooler than Venus, isn't it?

Re:So maybe they can find water on it? (3, Interesting)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#35444024)

Depends on what part of Venus. The surface will melt lead, and there's no plate tectonics (lack of water as a lubricant) because all the H2O is locked up in sulfuric acid clouds. One of the consequences of a locked crust is the inability to recycle the plates (and the chemicals like CO2 that they've pulled out of the atmosphere) via subduction.

Re:So maybe they can find water on it? (1)

eleuthero (812560) | more than 3 years ago | (#35444582)

How many nukes would it take to disrupt that equilibrium?

Re:So maybe they can find water on it? (3, Interesting)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#35444688)

You can't. Even if you nuked it to the point of turning portions to liquid, it wouldn't work. Liquids would release their CO2 into the atmosphere, and solids just won't subduct, because the rest of the crust is still locked together like interlocking pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.

You could put a big-enough planet-killing asteroid into it, strip off the sulphur-dioxide-laden atmosphere, and start over, but the entire surface would be molten at that point, and since the rest of the planet is already "squeezed bone dry", you'd just end up back where you started when things cooled down enough.

Dehydrating a planet looks to be like a one-way process.

Re:So maybe they can find water on it? (3, Interesting)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445124)

You could put a big-enough planet-killing asteroid into it, strip off the sulphur-dioxide-laden atmosphere, and start over, but the entire surface would be molten at that point, and since the rest of the planet is already "squeezed bone dry", you'd just end up back where you started when things cooled down enough.

Comets, then? Big ol' chunks of ice from space.

There's some interesting speculation about terraforming Venus in the wik: Terraforming of Venus [wikipedia.org].

Re:So maybe they can find water on it? (3, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445308)

I'd want those for colonizing the asteroid belt. That's where the real action is going to be if we ever decide to do anything. Don't need much energy to get out of the individual planetoid's gravity well, hollow them out for living space and raw materials, and we could even experiment with small-scale "ring-worlds".

Re:So maybe they can find water on it? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35445704)

Absolute crackpottery, insanity, delusional sci-fi jism. You're a lunatic.

Re:So maybe they can find water on it? (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445856)

Absolute crackpottery, insanity, delusional sci-fi jism. You're a lunatic.

No, lunatics want to colonize the moon.

The asteroid belt is the better bet because of the better availability of raw materials, and the much shallower (practically non-existent) gravity well for transfers between locations in the belt.

Find a rock with decent tensile strength, have bots hollow it out, spin it up, and we can live on the inside surface at 1g - that's a lot healthier than 1/6 g on the moon. And the surface area available from all those small chunks greatly exceeds the total land area of both the earth and moon combined.

Re:So maybe they can find water on it? (1)

Maritz (1829006) | more than 3 years ago | (#35458506)

Phobos would be an excellent first choice for this kind of project, as it's already largely hollow, and would make a great base for Mars surface missions. Would also give excellent shielding against cosmic radiation (which is one of the biggest technical challenges of a Mars mission).

Re:So maybe they can find water on it? (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35444904)

The surface will melt lead, and there's no plate tectonics (lack of water as a lubricant)

Um...dude. Water is not a major factor in plate tectonics, which involves huge chunks of the cracked planet being pushed around by molten rock in the planet's mantle. In those dynamics, gravel is a lubricant. And by "gravel" I mean any rock smaller than Norway.

Besides, even if you presume, for the sake of argument, a necessity for liquid libricants, there is, after all, the molten lead you mention...

Re:So maybe they can find water on it? (3, Informative)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445064)

Superheated water is required for plate subduction. It acts as a lubricant. It's one of the reasons why injecting water into wells to recover more oil triggers earthquakes. Even geothermal power generation [treehugger.com] can cause it.

Molten lead won't do it, if only because it won't flash into steam when the pressure is partially released, and blast out new channels, causing even more movement, more sudden pressure drops, and more steam, until the plate slips enough to release the pent-up strain.

Re:So maybe they can find water on it? (1)

jbengt (874751) | more than 3 years ago | (#35446308)

Superheated water is required for plate subduction. It acts as a lubricant. It's one of the reasons why injecting water into wells to recover more oil triggers earthquakes.

A plate subduction zone is the last place you'd be looking for oil.

Re:So maybe they can find water on it? (2)

barakn (641218) | more than 3 years ago | (#35446502)

You're referring to rather shallow water. At greater pressures it chemically binds with the rock and lowers the rock's melting temperature. The rock itself than becomes the lubricant.

Re:So maybe they can find water on it? (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35446550)

Not sure where you're getting that. Subduction isn't the result of steam explosions. If there's water involved at all, it's supercritical, not gaseous, and doesn't explode so much as filter upward, increasing the gradient that causes the upper plate to be lighter and ride up on the other. The enormous mass of circulating semi-solid mantle below the plates, undergoing asymmetric brownian motion, is by far the bigger player in moving the plates around; from there all it takes is an imbalance in density and flux to start the subduction, and then it just continues until it stops a few billion years later.

While water is involved in subduction on Earth, because water is everywhere on Earth, I don't agree that it's necessary or even a major player in the dynamics.

Re:So maybe they can find water on it? (2)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#35446724)

Subduction takes a lot less than a few billion years. Also, as another poster points out, under pressure, water lowers the melting point of the rock, allowing it to flow.

Re:So maybe they can find water on it? (1)

treeves (963993) | more than 3 years ago | (#35450488)

"there's no plate tectonics (lack of water as a lubricant)"

IANAG, but I've never heard that connection. Got a reference?

Re:So maybe they can find water on it? (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#35451816)

Water helps drive the process [wikipedia.org]

The subducting basalt and sediment are normally rich in hydrous minerals and clays. During the transition from basalt to eclogite, these hydrous materials break down, producing copious quantities of water, which at such great pressure and temperature exists as a supercritical fluid. The supercritical water, which is hot and more buoyant than the surrounding rock, rises into the overlying mantle where it lowers the pressure in (and thus the melting temperature of) the mantle rock to the point of actual melting, generating magma. These magmas, in turn, rise, because they are less dense than the rocks of the mantle.

If both plates remained the same density, they wouldn't be able to slip one over the other. They'd be like two fat people in a WalMart aisle, trying to get past each other, but going nowhere. Venus is a good example of a planet where there's no water, so no plate movement.

Re:So maybe they can find water on it? (1)

treeves (963993) | more than 3 years ago | (#35459090)

Thanks. Sounds like water is not literally a lubricant but is important to the process of plate tectonics. Something I'm sure Japan is wishing *didn't happen* right about now.

Re:So maybe they can find water on it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35443864)

This could be the universe's largest pressure cooker!

Re:So maybe they can find water on it? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35443976)

I just laid a little "brown dwarf" myself and sure enough, there's plenty of water around it. Smells like hell, too. Musta been all them Doritos I ate.

Re:So maybe they can find water on it? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35444254)

I was thinking about this also. Due to the pressure at the surface water would clearly be a liquid, however it would be pulled down toward the core as it would be heavier then the gasses that make up a star. At some point the temperature would increase enough that it would turn it to steam. If the steam rose (which I don't think would happen as steam would still be more dense then hydrogen and helium) to a point where it would condense, it would actually be raining inside the star,

Re:So maybe they can find water on it? (2)

magarity (164372) | more than 3 years ago | (#35444724)

After all, at the pressures we're talking about, water would be liquid well above 100 degrees C.

Excellent! That means to use the wormholes hiding in the center of stars we just need a submarine.

"Brown" Dwarf? (3, Funny)

sgcarter (604847) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443536)

Lister better get back to work. The Dwarf should be RED!

Re:"Brown" Dwarf? (1)

Merls the Sneaky (1031058) | more than 3 years ago | (#35444452)

CAPTAIN: Okay. (puts phone down) Rimmer, make this quick.
RIMMER: Sir, I wish to place on record that third technician Lister,
    David--
CAPTAIN: , Rimmer.
RIMMER: --smuggled aboard the mining vessel Red Dwarf a consignment of a
    hallucinogenic fungi "Titan Mushrooms," more popularly known to the
    Space Beatnik community as "Freaky Fungus."
CAPTAIN: Is this true?
LISTER: Erm, sort of.
RIMMER: And on the morning of Febuary the 26th, at 0800 hrs, did engage
    in conversation with second technician Rimmer, Arnold J.--
CAPTAIN: For crying out loud, Rimmer!
RIMMER: --the outcome of which was a proposal by the aforementioned
    Lister to the aforementioned Rimmer to cook him breakfast.
CAPTAIN: Okay, I'm getting the picture.
RIMMER: Breakfast comprised of two eggs, three rashers of bacon, a
    grilled tomato, two sausages, a small portion of fried potatoes... and
    a large quantity of _mushrooms_. Having consumed this repast, second
    technician Rimmer, Arnold J. experienced what can only be described as
    a voyage to trip-out city. To whit, a major hallucinogenic fit.
CAPTAIN: Lister, is this true?
LISTER: No, sir. I'm sure it was only one egg.
RIMMER: The aforementioned Rimmer, to whit, me, then attended inspection
    parade. He was totally naked except for a pair of mock-leather driving
    gloves and some blue swimming goggles. Under the influence of this
    psychadelic breakfast he went on to attack two senior officers,
    believing them to be giraffes who were armed and dangerous.
CAPTAIN: You'd better have a good reason for this, Lister.
LISTER: I have, sir.
CAPTAIN: Why'd you do it?
LISTER: I thought it'd be a laugh.
CAPTAIN: Right. Two weeks PD, Lister. Dismissed.
RIMMER: With respect, sir, the penalty for a crime of this nature is
    fifteen years imprisonment.
LISTER:
CAPTAIN: Rimmer,
RIMMER: Two weeks?
CAPTAIN: That's enough.
RIMMER: Two smegging weeks?
CAPTAIN: I said, that is enough!
RIMMER: With repect, sir, you've got your head right up your big fat
    arse.

Re:"Brown" Dwarf? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35444956)

Cat: Forget Red — let's go all the way up to Brown Alert!
        Kryten: There's no such thing as a Brown Alert, sir.
        Cat: You won't be saying that in a minute! And don't say I didn't alert you!

what if there are a lot of these? a heck of a lot? (5, Interesting)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443570)

we look up at the night sky and see only the bight stars, and assume everything else is vacuum. what if there is a relationship on the order of 100 invisible brown dwarf/ orphan jupiter planetary systems for every regular star system? or 1,000/1 or 10,000/1 or 100,000/1 or more?

i bet as we get better at trying to find exoplanets, we also find a lot of dead dark planetary systems out there. gravitationally bound, but completely without light. a jupiter, just sitting there all alone in the void, with its assemblage of moons/ planets, frozen, and without any light... but not rare at all, all over the place in fact and much more numerous than familiar ignited and main sequence star systems

i mean, star creation should assume a gaussian distribution in terms of star size, right? doesn't that just make simple entropic sense? well look at the wide base of that gaussian curve, below the minimum size needed for ignition: its huge! in overall mass and in number. so if the size spread of star systems is truly gaussian, then there should be orders of magnitude more dark systems out there than ignited systems. i bet we find legions of these systems, or, rather infer legions of them, and just never know for sure, because, of course, they are pitch dark and energetically completely dead

occlusion of other star systems would be the only way to see them. and even then, since they are so small and so far away, and occlusion would be once and probably not ever again, they would be much harder to find than exoplanets, unless they were close to our solar system. they would just become noise in the number of photons hitting earth

Re:what if there are a lot of these? a heck of a l (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35443674)

Yeah, but dude.... quit hoggin' the roach, maaaaan......

Re:what if there are a lot of these? a heck of a l (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35443694)

Moo.

Re:what if there are a lot of these? a heck of a l (2)

sandytaru (1158959) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443698)

We can actually see some failed-to-form star systems as the massive dust trails that surround the nucleus of the Milky Way, and other galaxies.

Re:what if there are a lot of these? a heck of a l (2)

bitfarmer (219431) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443776)

This question has lingered in the back of my mind for many years. How do we know there aren't 10^(some huge fucking number) planet-sized objects just floating out there in interstellar space? Assuming they're out there, then it would follow maybe there are 10^(some slightly smaller number) objects out there with a temperature/composition/etc. that's conducive to life of some kind.

If the numbers are right, maybe those candidates outnumber the candidates that orbit stars?

Re:what if there are a lot of these? a heck of a l (4, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443936)

It isn't terribly likely, the a-one requirement for life is some sort of energy gradient to cheat against entropy with.

Re:what if there are a lot of these? a heck of a l (2)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 3 years ago | (#35449144)

This question has lingered in the back of my mind for many years. How do we know there aren't 10^(some huge fucking number) planet-sized objects just floating out there in interstellar space?

Actually something like that very question has been asked...
 
Back when we first started to get a handle on galactic evolution, somebody noticed that the amount of visible (luminous, that is visible to telescopes, radio telescopes, etc..) matter in galaxies was not enough to account to the visible effects of gravity on galaxies. One of the first hypotheses they though of was that there must be a lot of invisible (non luminous) matter floating around - then somebody calculated that the amount of invisible (non luminous) matter required would in fact *be* visible, because it would obscure the stars.
 
This kicked off the search for dark matter [wikipedia.org].
 
So while there may be such bodies, the lack of observed gravitational effects, that they've never been observed to occult any stars under observation, and that none appear visible by the reflected light of out own Sun, gives an upper bound to how many there are likely to be. Further studies of the Oort cloud [wikipedia.org] and the Scattered disk [wikipedia.org] could refine that estimate, because if they exist they'll perturb the objects in those belts as they pass by.

Re:what if there are a lot of these? a heck of a l (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35443886)

You are describing massive WIMPS, MACHOs and Darkmatter

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weakly_interacting_massive_particle

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_matter
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_matter#History_of_the_search_for_its_composition

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massive_compact_halo_object
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massive_compact_halo_object#Theoretical_considerations

We can not 'see' them. So we can only guess they exist.

Re:what if there are a lot of these? a heck of a l (3, Interesting)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445440)

i am not describing any of those things. i understand the debate about matter and dark matter and other exotic things we can't see in the universe, and a number of exotic possibilities about where "missing" matter might or might not exist

but i am talking about a more mundane, simplistic issue about star formation and the possibility of a huge amount of "failed" star systems out there

Re:what if there are a lot of these? a heck of a l (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35444196)

They should be able to see these failed stars in the IR range with no real problem. While some may exist I would think if they existed in the quantities you suggest that they'd easily be seen by now.

Re:what if there are a lot of these? a heck of a l (2)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445050)

i mean, star creation should assume a gaussian distribution in terms of star size, right? doesn't that just make simple entropic sense?

Since you can't have negative mass, an exponential distribution makes more sense (and is the maximum entropy distribution.) AFAIK, and someone please tell me if I'm wrong, the mass distribution of observed, ignited stars is approximately exponential. This would fit your hypothesis since the exponential distribution is "memoryless," i.e. if you chop off the lower portion of the curve you still have the same distribution.

Re:what if there are a lot of these? a heck of a l (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#35449012)

i see where you are coming from with the exponential distribution. that the colossal titanic star systems are few, and then as you go to smaller self-contained gravitational systems, you get more and more objects/ systems, exponentially increasing in number, down to, well, space dust i guess. i was thinking that since we did see some brown dwarfs and dark systems, that we see a "false" gaussian distribution: that the real gaussian distribution is a much larger hump that we are only seeing the leading edge of

either way, the point is the same: there is a hidden portion of smaller systems/ objects we simply don't see,, and this set of smaller objects/ systems is enormously huge. but we don't see them, simply because they never ignited and became visible

Re:what if there are a lot of these? a heck of a l (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 3 years ago | (#35450028)

Oh, I agree with your overall idea. Just saying I would be very surprised if the distribution were at all Gaussian. It's almost surely some heavily right-skewed distribution: if not exponential, then probably best modeled by one of the generalizations of the exponential distribution like the gamma or Weibull. If you're making the entropic argument, then the exponential makes the most sense -- Gaussian is maximum entropy on the real number line, but exponential is maximum entropy on the half-open interval between 0 and infinity, which is where the possible stellar masses fall. It's impossible to be sure until we have much better technology, of course, since the right tails of all of these distributions look much alike.

Re:what if there are a lot of these? a heck of a l (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445056)

i mean, star creation should assume a gaussian distribution in terms of star size, right?

No, we shouldn't assume star creation has a Gaussian distribution - the universe is neither symmetrical nor uniform. Not even at smaller scales - look at the different types/forms of galaxies for example. The gravitational effects and thus the distribution of proto-stellar matter in a spiral galaxy [wikipedia.org] is going to be different than than the effects and distribution in a barred spiral galaxy [wikipedia.org]. (Let alone the multiple other types.) Even within a single galaxy conditions are going to vary. Considering just an ordinary spiral, you'll find different conditions within the core, the arms, the edges of the arms, and out on the rim.
 
Furthermore, the conditions vary over time as stars of varying ages go nova/supernova. Then you have to consider that not only is the galaxy itself moving and rotating, the stars within the galaxy are moving...
 
I rather suspect that the distribution of stellar types, rather than being even roughly Gaussian, is going to be determined by the Butterfly Effect [wikipedia.org].
 

well look at the wide base of that gaussian curve, below the minimum size needed for ignition

If it didn't ignite, it's not a star - then technically it doesn't even belong on the chart of star sizes.

Re:what if there are a lot of these? a heck of a l (2)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445388)

"If it didn't ignite, it's not a star - then technically it doesn't even belong on the chart of star sizes."

you are just being legalistic, not making a valid statement which counteracts what i am saying. plus you are talking about galaxies... huh? this is phenomena on a vastly different scale than that is star and planetary system formation

the simple truth is, whenever a star/ planetary system forms, you are talking about a certain amount of mass in the region that serves as a starting point. after some time, you have a central gravitational focus, with various objects in orbit. whether or not one or two or more of those objects ignite, is simply a function of mass. and therefore, it is entirely reasonable and plausible to hypothesize that there exists a whole class of systems out there that, simply because nothing ignited, we aren't aware of them. then it is equally valid to say that there may be vastly more of such brown and dark systems than systems we can see, simply as a function of random chance and the distribution of possible amounts of mass in a region where gravity started acting and leading us down the path towards star/ planetary system

you've brought nothing but a bunch of legalistic and off topic issues, you haven't refuted or even touched what i am saying

Re:what if there are a lot of these? a heck of a l (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 3 years ago | (#35446216)

you've brought nothing but a bunch of legalistic and off topic issues, you haven't refuted or even touched what i am saying

No, I went right to heart of the issues you raised - and refuted them based on scientific evidence. What you've done is simply repeated what you said before without addressing the scientific facts.
 

the simple truth is, whenever a star/ planetary system forms, you are talking about a certain amount of mass in the region that serves as a starting point. after some time, you have a central gravitational focus, with various objects in orbit. whether or not one or two or more of those objects ignite, is simply a function of mass. and therefore, it is entirely reasonable and plausible to hypothesize that there exists a whole class of systems out there that, simply because nothing ignited, we aren't aware of them.

Since I never said such objects don't exist, I fail to see your point.
 

then it is equally valid to say that there may be vastly more of such brown and dark systems than systems we can see, simply as a function of random chance

No, it is not valid to make such a statement - because the distribution of proto-stellar mass and the distribution of events and forces that influence stellar formation are neither random nor Gaussian. That's why I brought in galaxies, to illustrate that point - even though they are on a different scale, that does not mean they lack influence. Continental drift operates on a hell of a different scale than I do - but both the longer term effects (raising where I live, the Pacific Northwest, above the ocean) and the shorter term effects (volcanoes and earthquakes) have a great deal of influence on me.
 
So it goes with galaxies - by effecting the distribution of proto-stellar and stellar matter (both on the large scale by clumping it into galaxies and on a smaller scale considering the difference between the rim and the core) they effect the evolution of stellar systems within them. The effects of that (different types of stars forming at different places in different time resulting in nova and supernova ejecting mass from stars into space in varying places at varying times) are analogous to volcanoes and earthquakes and also effect stellar and planetary system evolution.
 
There's a time dimension as well. The distribution of types of matter varies with the age of the universe and the age of the galaxies. In the beginning, there was nothing but hydrogen. Over time, stars fused that hydrogen into heavier elements (stopping at iron) and energetic events (nova and supernova) created heavier elements and distributed them into space. The presence and concentration of these elements determine not only stellar evolution *but also* planetary system evolution. Since the distribution of those elements is non Gaussian, the types of stars and planetary systems formed from those elements cannot be either.
 
In short, the evidence available indicates there is no reason to assume the distribution of stellar types is both non-random and non-Gaussian - every bit of available evidence points to the contrary conclusion.

why the bleep are you babbling about galaxies? (2)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#35446622)

that has nothing to do with this concept. its like saying plate tectonics influences boulder size in a creek bed. of course, plate tectonics raised the mountains that made the creek, but the boulders in that creek are dictated by wind, water, erosion, the composition of rocks in the area, etc. all you have is a "far out man, everything is connected" platitude, and nothing at all to say about the mass of planetary systems

take a count of the largest stars. then just the large stars. the medium sized... you are increasing in number, right? you are at the front of a gaussian curve. now the numbers start falling as you get smaller and smaller. you have a curve with a rapid drop off on the smaller side. my hypothesis is simply that this is artificial because we simply can't see the dimmer and totally dark systems out there

that you are only looking at the visible top edge of a much larger gaussian curve of star/ planetary system size, where non-ignited stars (i know, legalistically those are not called stars, but you get my point despite your legalisms) make up a large unseen portion of the curve. that what we see is only the edge of a much larger gaussian distribution. it is a function of what is visible versus what is true, and the disconnect between these two simply because smaller systems are unignited, but still sitting out there, dark and cold

Re:why the bleep are you babbling about galaxies? (0)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 3 years ago | (#35447968)

I thought it made it quite clear why I keep talking about galaxies - because they effect local conditions. Local conditions effect what kinds of stars are born and when they are born. What kinds of stars are born and when they are born (and thus how and when they die) affect subsequent populations of stars - and thus the planetary systems that form alongside those subsequent stars.
 

take a count of the largest stars. then just the large stars. the medium sized... you are increasing in number, right?

Are they increasing in number? Where's your evidence?
 

you are at the front of a gaussian curve. now the numbers start falling as you get smaller and smaller. you have a curve with a rapid drop off on the smaller side. my hypothesis is simply that this is artificial because we simply can't see the dimmer and totally dark systems out there

Before you can extrapolate the existence of the hand side of the curve, first you must demonstrate the existence of the right side you're extrapolating from.
 
On top of that you must account for the fact that a star's size varies over time. The stars we see *now* (in type and location) are not the stars we would see if we traveled back 10 billion years, nor are they the stars we'd see if we traveled forward 10 billion years. In the same way, you can't extrapolate the relative position and population of LA and Seattle a million years ago and a million years hence from their current positions and population - you need much deeper knowledge to do that.
 
For an example of that deeper knowledge, and why your method of taking a census of the stars visible today won't work - consider our own Sun. Our own Sun is a yellow dwarf today - but 10 billion years ago it didn't even exist, 10 billion years in the future it will be a white dwarf (have spent some time as a red giant along the way). Take a look at this chronology of the solar system [wikipedia.org] to see the past and future of the sun so far as we understand stellar evolution today. (The second item in the table even refers to the local conditions I talk about above - conditions that vary with the location of the protostar in the galaxy.)

Re:why the bleep are you babbling about galaxies? (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448560)

i'm through with you. for some reason you believe in talking about completely unrelated tangential topics. other people posting here are able to grasp my point rather simply and address it. but you've got some sort of obtuse mental inability to see a simple point before you and focus on that simple point

Re:why the bleep are you babbling about galaxies? (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 3 years ago | (#35449010)

Typical troll response - confronted with facts, you run screaming for the hills. I've addressed your simple point again and again, but you lack the wit to comprehend it.

Re:why the bleep are you babbling about galaxies? (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#35449034)

you have confronted me with facts. i agree with every fact you've told me. that's not the point

here, i'll confront you with a fact: the sky is blue

you would rightfully respond that this has nothing to do with the subject matter at hand. at which point, according to your playbook, i can now call you a troll

i'm not doubting your knowledge, i am doubting your social ability to stay within the scope of a given topic

Re:why the bleep are you babbling about galaxies? (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 3 years ago | (#35449192)

you have confronted me with facts. i agree with every fact you've told me. that's not the point

Each and every one of my facts bears on your hypothesis as to the distribution of stellar types. Every scientific, pseudo scientific, mathematical, and pseudo mathematical claim you have made has been rebutted with facts.
 
So what then *is* the point?
 

i am doubting your social ability to stay within the scope of a given topic

Prior to calling you a troll, I have stayed narrowly within the scope of the topic - which is your hypothesis of the likely distribution of stellar types. Whether you choose to believe it or not - these things *are* connected, and I've abundantly, politely, and repeatedly demonstrated the connection. You claim to believe be, but you act as if you don't.

Re:why the bleep are you babbling about galaxies? (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#35449398)

you didn't. you babbled about galaxies. tangential topic. you're daft man

look, here is an example of successfully challenging my words and making a better point than me:

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2031350&cid=35445050 [slashdot.org]

i replied he had a fair point, because he does

but you, you don't have a point. you have another subject matter. it doesn't say anything material about my hypothesis. you don't refute it. you don't support it. you just babble pointlessly about a subject that is not material

do you see how this guy addressed my point? do you see how you don't?

Re:why the bleep are you babbling about galaxies? (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 3 years ago | (#35450388)

do you see how this guy addressed my point? do you see how you don't?

Well, no, he didn't address your point because nothing you said implied or required negative mass.
 

it doesn't say anything material about my hypothesis. you don't refute it. you don't support it.

Bullshit. Your hypothesis was that the distribution was Gaussian - I showed that it cannot possibly be so.
 
There is no further point to this conversation, because you're a clueless addlepated jackass.

Very Poor PC (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35443612)

They are called African American Little People thank you..

Did anyone else... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35443636)

...think the article was about African-American little people at first?

Re:Did anyone else... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35443822)

What'ch you talkin' 'bout, Anonymous?

Misleading title (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35443792)

I though it was an article about zombie gary coleman going weird on coke.

The last time a Brown Dwarf hit a record low... (0, Flamebait)

orphiuchus (1146483) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443794)

...Was when Gary Coleman had to work as a security guard to pay his bills!

Ah HA! (2)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443982)

...as it could belong to a so-far theoretical 'Y' class of brown dwarf, a classification that makes objects like this cool example more planet-like than star-like.

I see what you did there.

Did they make this brown dwarf? (3, Funny)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#35444088)

The first sentence of the summary says they "spotted" the brown dwarf. This implies that it was out there and they observed it. The second sentence says that they managed to "constrain" its temperature. This implies that they have control over its temperature. I think that if they have found a way to control the temperature of a brown dwarf (or any other star) that is bigger news than that this is the coolest brown dwarf they have found.

Re:Did they make this brown dwarf? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35444184)

Constrain their estimate of the temperature, I'm sure.

And this post was not long enough. Fortunately I was prompted to add this useful content.

Re:Did they make this brown dwarf? (1)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 3 years ago | (#35444302)

By "constrain" they mean "have proven that the temperature cannot exceed"; they have established a constraint on their estimates.

Re:Did they make this brown dwarf? (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445274)

Unfortunately, constrain does not mean that. The summary could have said, "have managed to prove that its temperature is constrained to...", that would have been a correct usage of the word "constrain". The link does not actually use the word constrain relative to the temperature of the star. And in actuality the articles link say that they have calculated that the temperature of this object is 97 degrees Celsius give or take 40 degrees. Which means that even by your interpretation the summary is wrong because their calculations do not prove that the temperature cannot exceed "slightly less than 100 degrees Celsius."

Re:Did they make this brown dwarf? (1)

jdpars (1480913) | more than 3 years ago | (#35444350)

No, when they see some new thing in the sky, they work from "This could be anything" to "This is a Y with X temperature, Z mass, etc." Thus, constraining its attributes from guesses to accurate data.

Re:Did they make this brown dwarf? (2)

danpbrowning (149453) | more than 3 years ago | (#35446246)

The first sentence of the summary says they "spotted" the brown dwarf. This implies that it was out there and they observed it.

You are mistaken. When they "spotted" the brown dwarf, it means they added decorative spots to it. So not only do they have the power to control its temperature as you correctly pointed out, but now they can even add polka dots. I'm looking forward to plaid stars.

Re:Did they make this brown dwarf? (1)

treeves (963993) | more than 3 years ago | (#35450512)

Lots of stars look plaid if you're going fast enough (ludicrous speed).

Why can't they make the Sun shine in Pittsburgh? (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 3 years ago | (#35444228)

Astronomers from the University of Hawaii have managed to constrain its temperature to just shy of 100 degrees Celsius.

If these guys have the power to constrain the temperature in some distant galaxy, I wish they will use the power constructively to combat global warming here in this planet. Or at least give a few more days of sunshine to the rust belt USA.

Re:Why can't they make the Sun shine in Pittsburgh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35444482)

I'm glad for the rains in Pittsburgh. Maybe it will finally flood the town and wash away everything including their aging frat boy of a mayor with it.

Hmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35444336)

I initially thought that this was going to be a Gary Coleman related post.

Dyson spheres? Ringworlds? (3, Interesting)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 3 years ago | (#35444432)

So if the Keck telescope is sensitive enough to detect a (star? large planet?) sized object that is radiating at only at 100c, could it pick up Dyson Spheres? Ringworlds? (But perhaps ringworlds would be more easily detected using transit studies! And, yes I know that they are dynamically unstable!)

Re:Dyson spheres? Ringworlds? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35444930)

The Ringworld is unstable!
The Ringword is unstable!
We've done as much as we are able,
And that's good enough for me!

Re:Dyson spheres? Ringworlds? (1)

guspasho (941623) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445618)

Why are they unstable?

Re:Dyson spheres? Ringworlds? (3, Informative)

pavon (30274) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445794)

If the ring is even the slightest bit uncentered, then it will become more and more uncentered over time, moving in a hula-hoop like rotation around the sun until it eventually touches the sun. You need an active repositioning system to prevent this from happening (like Niven introduced in later books).

http://testservice-eprints.gla.ac.uk/38/1/JIBS_C_McInnes_56_308.pdf [gla.ac.uk]

Re:Dyson spheres? Ringworlds? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35445964)

I never got into the series and I'm no engineer, but here's my guess:

Trying to balance a ring world around a star is like trying to balance a dinner plate on the tip of a pencil. Only harder because you can't spin it very fast without killing everyone. With enough planning, you can get it balanced, but even very slight external forces would cause it to start wobbling. With the star's gravity acting on the ring, even the slightest wobble will cascade until the ring collides with the star. A quick googling came up with a quote from one of the books in the series saying that even a solar flare from the star could exert enough force to lead to a collision five years later. I would imagine it would take some ridiculously sophisticated and powerful thrusters to keep such a thing in place long term.

I would imagine a dyson sphere would have similar issues.

Re:Dyson spheres? Ringworlds? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35446494)

Ringsworlds are a mechanical impossibility.

Dyson spheres don't make any sense because surely any intelligent race will be able to harness fusion long before having the technical capability of creating a Dyson Sphere. Once you can harness fusion then there is no point in getting energy from a star when you can create your own (eg. portable versions).

Emma Watson Update. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35444514)

She has dropped out of college, so she is no longer a Brown Dwarf.

Maybe the coldest... (1)

JonStewartMill (1463117) | more than 3 years ago | (#35444564)

but certainly not the coolest [imdb.com]. Sorry, couldn't resist.

Re:Maybe the coldest... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35444722)

And here you had an opportunity to make a Zaphod Beeblebrox joke and completely blew it. At the very least, you could have chosen his cousin Ford Prefect, played by Mos Def [imdb.com] to keep with your theme.

To pick a person whose only Sci/Fi role is playing an Ewok....I am disappointed.

does this change the search for earth like planets (1)

cdpage (1172729) | more than 3 years ago | (#35444888)

knowing that a star/planet can burn so cool now, should change the search parameters when looking for earth like planets/moons.

Re:does this change the search for earth like plan (1)

Intron (870560) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445552)

According to the paper it has a mass of 6–15 MJup and radius = 1.04 Jup so it would not be a pleasant place to visit.

Re:does this change the search for earth like plan (1)

cdpage (1172729) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445788)

I meant it's moons... or other cold brown dwarf / planets moons.

Re:does this change the search for earth like plan (1)

Intron (870560) | more than 3 years ago | (#35447762)

With no nearby hot sun, they don't sound too hospitable either.

If there is a nearby brown dwarf, I wonder if there is an opportunity for mining. As I understand it, they have been gathering dust for a very long time so there may be interesting stuff on the surface.

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