Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

NASA Discovers 7th Closest Star

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the practically-in-my-back-yard dept.

NASA 137

Thorfinn.au says "Scientists using data from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) have discovered the coldest class of star-like bodies, with temperatures as cool as the human body. Astronomers hunted these dark orbs, termed Y dwarfs, for more than a decade without success. When viewed with a visible-light telescope, they are nearly impossible to see. WISE's infrared vision allowed the telescope to finally spot the faint glow of six Y dwarfs relatively close to our sun, within a distance of about 40 light-years. 'WISE scanned the entire sky for these and other objects, and was able to spot their feeble light with its highly sensitive infrared vision,' said Jon Morse, Astrophysics Division director at NASA Headquarters in Washington. 'They are 5,000 times brighter at the longer infrared wavelengths WISE observed from space than those observable from the ground.'"

cancel ×

137 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Cleaner (-1, Troll)

ManBooty (2445282) | more than 3 years ago | (#37192902)

A few days ago, it finally happened to me. Being an experienced PC user, I was shocked that I had been infected with a computer virus. This wasn't just any virus, however. It held my computer hostage and wouldn't go away unless I paid the creators $80! I thought I could get rid of it myself since I was an experienced PC user.

I was horribly, horribly wrong. None of the usual solutions worked at all! I wasted hour after hour trying to remove the virus. My life span was quickly dwindling away due to this nightmarish virus. My gigabits were running slower than ever, and my computer was underclocking. This virus succeeded in doing one thing: making me a mere shell of what I once was. I became filled with feelings of anger, emptiness, and depression. There was a time when I became so angry at this wretched virus that I struck my own four-year-old daughter and my wife.

That's when I found MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] . I went to their website, ran a free scan, and MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] made the virus vanish off of my PC right this minuteness. I couldn't believe how effective MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] was!

My daughter's response? "MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] is outstanding! My dad's computer is running faster than ever! MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] totally cleaned up my dad's system and increased his speed!"

MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] came through with flying colors where no one else could! If you're having computer problems like I was, then I honestly and wholeheartedly recommend that you use MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] to solve your problem. MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] will clean up all of your gigabits and you'll be overclocking in no time!

But even if you're not having any visible problems, I still recommend that you use MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] . If you do use MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] , your computer will be overclocking and your gigabits will be running like new! So use MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] right this minuteness!

Watch their commercial! [youtube.com]

MyCleanPC: For a Cleaner, Safer PC. [mycleanpc.com]

Re:Cleaner (-1, Offtopic)

UltimateBooty (2445396) | more than 3 years ago | (#37192940)

I never thought it would happen to me, but it did. It happened about a week ago. I got a virus on my computer. A very bad virus that wouldn't go away unless I paid the creators $65! However, being an experienced user, I was confident that I would be able to get rid of it.

I was wrong. None of the usual solutions worked at all. They just served to waste my time and nothing more. Feeling crushed, drained, and depressed, I became a mere shell of what I once was. I was trapped deep inside a hopeless pit of despair.

That's when I found MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] . I went to MyCleanPC's [mycleanpc.com] website, ran a free scan, and it totally cleaned up my system and increased my speed this minuteness!

MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] is outstanding! My computer is running faster than ever! MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] totally cleaned up my system and increased my speed! MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] came through with flying colors where no one else could!

MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] saved my computer from a horribly frustrating virus. If you're having problems with your computer, then I recommend using MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] . It'll totally clean up your system and your gigabits will be running like new!

But even if you're not having any visible problems, you could still be infected. So I think you should get MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] and run a scan right this minuteness so you can feel nice and clean just like me!

Watch their commercial! [youtube.com]

MyCleanPC: For a Cleaner, Safer PC. [mycleanpc.com]

Re:Cleaner (-1, Troll)

TheBooties (2445400) | more than 3 years ago | (#37192972)

A few days ago, a customer brought in their PC for repair. They told me that they had a very nasty virus that was holding their computer hostage and wouldn't stop unless they paid the creators $50. "Alright," I thought. "That's pretty standard."

But, soon enough, I found that I was overexerting myself trying to get rid of this virus. I had never seen a virus this bad before. Reformatting and using all of the usual software to try to remove the virus didn't help at all!

As a PC repair technician with 10+ years of experience, I was dumbfounded. I couldn't remove the virus, and to make matters worse, their gigabits were running slower than ever! I soon plummeted into a severe state of depression and anxiety.

That's when I found MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] . I went to MyCleanPC's [mycleanpc.com] website, ran a free scan, and the virus simply vanished from their computer this minuteness. I couldn't believe how fast their gigabits were running afterwards just from using MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] !

My customer's response? "MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] is outstanding! My computer is running faster than ever! MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] totally cleaned up my system and increased my speed!"

My thoughts: MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] came through with flying colors where no one else could! I love MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] !

The fact that such an experienced PC repair technician is recommending MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] should be more than enough to convince you that it is high-quality software.

If you're having computer problems, then as an experienced PC repair technician, I wholeheartedly recommend using MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] . Your gigabits and speed will be overclocking and running at maximum efficiency!

But, in my experience, even if you're not having any visible problems, you could still be infected. So get MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] and run a scan this minuteness so you'll be overclocking with the rest of us!

Watch their commercial! [youtube.com]

MyCleanPC: For a Cleaner, Safer PC. [mycleanpc.com]

Re:Cleaner (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37192980)

Things like this make me wish Dr Bob were our only resident troll.

Re:Cleaner (3, Insightful)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193030)

Bring back PizzaAnalogyGuy [slashdot.org] ! He had real promise as an up-and-coming troll, but sadly fizzled out too quickly.

Re:Cleaner (1)

m50d (797211) | more than 3 years ago | (#37194708)

Now you're making me wonder, whatever happened to the guy with the thai ladyboys?

Re:Cleaner (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 3 years ago | (#37194078)

I always figured from their commercials that they were probably a scam.

Seeing them here spamming the shit out of their shitty product it is obvious that it is indeed a scam.

Thanks for confirming your product is a piece of shit.

Ninja stars (5, Funny)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 3 years ago | (#37192922)

40 lightyears! I hereby dub these "ninja stars", for their ability to sneak up on us like this.

More like the ex-wife star (4, Funny)

macwhizkid (864124) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193148)

Closer than you're comfortable with, and colder than you can possibly imagine.

Fail? (1)

FunkyELF (609131) | more than 3 years ago | (#37192942)

Closest or Coldest?

Both? (2)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193010)

They are (relatively) cold. They are also (relatively) close.

Re:Fail? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37193022)

Closest. RTFA.

Re:Fail? (1)

Zumbs (1241138) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193034)

Closest and very cold (for a star).

Re:Fail? (3, Informative)

itchythebear (2198688) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193050)

Nope, no typo.

FTFA:

The Y dwarfs are in our sun's neighborhood, from approximately nine to 40 light-years away. The Y dwarf approximately nine light-years away, WISE 1541-2250, may become the seventh closest star system, bumping Ross 154 back to eighth. By comparison, the star closest to our solar system, Proxima Centauri, is about four light-years away.

additional info [wikipedia.org]

Re:Fail? (4, Insightful)

jameskojiro (705701) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193118)

Based on how many cold dwarf stars we have found so far, there may be stars like this one within 2 LY or less. In which case they would make for a great candidate for a high speed interstellar probe.

Re:Fail? (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193384)

Well... considering

"The [Helios] probes are notable for having set a maximum speed record among spacecraft at 252,792 km/h (157,078 mi/h or 43.63 mi/s or 70.22 km/s or 0.000234c)."

even our fastest probe is 1/4000 the speed of light, you might be a bit disappointed by the response time.

Re:Fail? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37193606)

Because we couldn't possibly build something faster if we had the motivation to do it.

Re:Fail? (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193818)

How much faster do you think we can make it? Oh... and it needs to stop or at least slow down when it gets to the star. Orbit would be nice but not absolutely necessary, I would think.

Re:Fail? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#37194158)

Seems like a good use for the theoretical moon base... wrap Luna in a MLA and most of the probe can be discarded at the end as reaction mass... it's a gun that fires to leave the probe in orbit. Its last act is to act as a repeater.

OK, so I read a lot of science fiction, so sue me

Re:Fail? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37194728)

Is there an astrophysicist in the house?

What if we had a series of what were basically rail guns set along a path for the probe. The probe would get a start from a plain rocket, but the real kick would come whenever it passed through a gun. Could we come up with positioning for the guns and flight path for the probe that would give it enough speed before achieving stellar escape velocity?

As for decelerating, if we can send the probe off without using any on-board reaction mass, maybe something super efficient like an ion engine could slow it down enough.

Chicken and egg... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37195018)

If you can put railguns that far away, you would be better off just sending the probe instead.

Re:Chicken and egg... (1)

kryliss (72493) | more than 3 years ago | (#37195716)

I was just going to say that.

Re:Fail? (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193854)

Sure we could build something faster, but fast enough? We need something 2-3 orders of magnitude faster to be really useful. That's a tall order.

Re:Fail? (2)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#37194546)

Sure we could build something faster, but fast enough? We need something 2-3 orders of magnitude faster to be really useful. That's a tall order.

No, not really. Helios was a fat-a** at about 820 pounds. A ham radio microsat sized probe plus an actual intention to "go fast" could probably go 3 orders of mag faster. You can get two orders of mag just by thinning the probe weight, maybe another if you go gonzo on booster and upper stage size and really fine tune the gravitational assists.

I've often wondered if you combined the X-15 goal of "just go fast, that's all" with a space probe, just what would happen, exactly... Probably something the size of a saturn-5, launching a truly giant ion upper stage, launching a tiny little probe the size of AO-51 (two dozen pounds, more or less)...

Re:Fail? (1)

Lifyre (960576) | more than 3 years ago | (#37194824)

Will your 10 kilo probe have enough power and ability to obtain meaningful information and then send the information back?

Re:Fail? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37193508)

...

You're going to have to define what you mean by a high-speed interstellar probe first. If you mean conventionally fast, I'm going to point you at the voyager program, which is making pretty good time for normal definitions at 17 km/s, and could be out 2 light years in, oh, 34,000 years or so.

If, on the other hand, you mean significant percentages of c fast (and to make the trip in a reasonable amount of time, you'd have to average at least .1c, which means you have to be capable of going significantly faster to make up for acceleration/deceleration phases), first you have to figure out how to actually get something going that fast. I'm aware that there are theoretical designs that might be capable of those kinds of speeds, but they're still in the very theoretical stage.

Also, you're going to have to find some way to get around the 4-year delay in response times (hows that for ping time?). In short, just because you can say the number for how far 2 light-years is doesn't mean you can actually understand the distance, and just because it's a lot closer than anything else won't make it close enough to matter. Just because the moon is a lot closer than the sun doesn't mean you can jump and touch the moon.

Re:Fail? (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193760)

Unless exotic physics delivers some new way of getting around the light speed barrier, what we're going to need to send probes to even the nearest stars is a craft far more rugged than one we've built now. I'm thinking self-repairing, with lots of raw materials sent with it so it can manufacture spare parts as needed. That, of course, is going to make it very f***ing heavy, which means we're going to need to have some really fantastical way to produce large amounts of energy (the closer you approach c , the more energy you require, and c itself is impossible to achieve, because it would require infinite energy). I'd say the construction of such a craft is a few generations away.

Re:Fail? (1)

rmstar (114746) | more than 3 years ago | (#37194594)

Unless exotic physics delivers some new way of getting around the light speed barrier, what we're going to need to send probes to even the nearest stars is a craft far more rugged than one we've built now. I'm thinking self-repairing, with lots of raw materials sent with it so it can manufacture spare parts as needed.

Which means - we won't be going anywhere near another star for the foreseeable future. We are, technologically speaking, like ancient Greeks thinking about sending someone to the moon. We cannot even lift from earth any amount of gear that comes even close to covering a useful setup for a mission like that.

Re:Fail? (1)

toastar (573882) | more than 3 years ago | (#37194786)

IDK, if you had a vasmir pushing at .1G for a year, you would be going about ~.1c, in that case you could be there in 20 years. I think this would be semi-reasonable.

Re:Fail? (0)

Marc Madness (2205586) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193132)

At 40 light-years, they are definitely not among the 7 closest stars to earth [wikimedia.org] :
  1. 1) alpha-Centauri A: 4.2421 light-years
  2. 2) alpha-Centauri B: 4.3650 light-years
  3. 3) Barnard's Star: 5.9630 light-years
  4. 4) Wolf 359: 7.7825 light-years
  5. 5) Lalande 21185: 8.2905 light-years
  6. 6) Sirius: 8.5828 light-years
  7. 7) Luyten 726-8: 8.7280 light-years

Re:Fail? (1)

Forty Two Tenfold (1134125) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193216)

At 40 light-years, they are definitely not among the 7 closest stars to earth [wikimedia.org] :

I think there might be a difference between a star and a star system, but IANAA.

Re:Fail? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37193296)

It depends how you count. Alpha Centauri is a triple star system, A and B are the binary central stars, with smaller Proxima orbiting at a further distance from the two (last I checked, Proxima was currently the closest to us of the three). Sirius is also a binary star system, but Sirius B, which is the significantly smaller companion, was only discovered a couple years ago.

Re:No Fail? (1)

bruce_the_loon (856617) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193300)

From TFA, The Y dwarf approximately nine light-years away, WISE 1541-2250, may become the seventh closest star system, bumping Ross 154 back to eighth

Alpha Centauri is a single star system and this Y dwarf survey was out to 40 light-years. Ross 154 is 9.6 light-years and they think WISE 1541-2250 is just over 9.

Re:Fail? (1)

magarity (164372) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193332)

You've gone to a lot of trouble to format that response but not much into reading even the summary. There were 6 of these stars found within 40 light years. One of the six is at a close enough distance to place it 7th closest. You see, within 40 means that one was at 40 and the rest were less than 40. It would be pretty creepy if there were 6 nearly invisible stars neatly arranged around us at exactly 40 light years.

Re:Fail? (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193440)

Yeah well, that's coming from a guy who never made the Kessel Run in under 12 parsecs!

Re:Fail? (1)

Marc Madness (2205586) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193566)

The closest is still approximately 9 light-years away, so my comment is still correct (assuming you overlook the fact that I conflated star systems with stars).

Re:Fail? (4, Insightful)

The Dawn Of Time (2115350) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193694)

I'll share with you a technique that has helped me immeasurably throughout my life: when I find a glaring mistake in someone's output, something that they just should not have overlooked, I first assume that I've misunderstood something and the mistake is actually mine and check again. 90% of the time, it saves me from looking like a jackass.

Re:Fail? (1)

Marc Madness (2205586) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193762)

Good tip. Although I might not otherwise have learned the consequence of making half-baked statements on /.

Re:Fail? (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193422)

You forgot Proxima Centauri, which orbits Alpha Centauri A and B, and is the third closest star to us.

Re:Fail? (1)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193824)

So is it alpha-centaury A the star nearest to Earth? How could I were so wrong all these years thinking the nearest one to Earth was Sun?

Re:Fail? (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193186)

Both, smartass.

Re:Fail? (3, Interesting)

magarity (164372) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193242)

Closest, yes. Coldest? Maybe - but what if they're inside Dyson spheres and just not radiating much to the outside universe?

Re:Fail? (3, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193428)

Then that would be the most awesome finding ever.

Re:Fail? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37193988)

I disagree.

They are probably harnessing the star's energy to send a massive kill ray to Earth in retaliation for the first season of Survivor reaching their planet last year. We'll all be fried in about 8 years, now.

Re:Fail? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37193594)

Unlikely.
A Dyson sphere must radiate as much as it receives (from the star inside) or its temperature will rise until equilibrium sets in.

Using Sol as an example. Sun at 6000K, 600k mls diam, Dyson sphere at 93M mls rad and using Stephan's law for radiation:temp gives a surface temp on the outside of the sphere of about 230deg C. A bit warm and warmer than the article indicates.

But that's the entire extent of my science on display...

Re:Fail? (1)

The Dawn Of Time (2115350) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193716)

What if they constructed their Dyson sphere out of wormhole material and they shunt the energy output to the core of another star, effectively cloaking it? I mean as long as we're talking about shit far beyond our ken, we might as well dream big.

Re:Fail? (1)

squidflakes (905524) | more than 3 years ago | (#37194558)

Why even go that far? A simple, if rather large, laser is an amazing heat sink, and unless you're right in it's path it would be very very hard to detect.

Telescope? (2, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193018)

I'm not sure that NASA is taking the most efficient path here: If you want to discover cold, distant objects, any marriage counselor who is a bit flexible about confidentiality should be able to provide you with dozens of them, without any of the trouble of sophisticated infrared astronomy...

Re:Telescope? (1)

magarity (164372) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193686)

I'm glad you're not bitter.

Re:Telescope? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193708)

I've never been married, I was just going for the stock joke. I have observed some reasonably ugly marital decay processes, though...

missing mass? (1)

maweki (999634) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193088)

does this explain the missing mass in the universe or did we allready account for what we found? Hundreds of 'em within a 40ly radius?!

Already explained (1)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193146)

It's the packaging material of the computers to do the mass calculation.

Re:missing mass? (1)

taiwanjohn (103839) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193276)

I was wondering that too... There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your string theory, Horatio.

Re:missing mass? (1)

malilo (799198) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193446)

I believe the amount of not-easily-visible ordinary matter in the universe has already been accounted for in our models. We knew sources like this were there. Even at the most optimistic estimates, it is dwarfed by the amount needed to throw off the galaxy rotation curves, the main (but certainly not only) circumstantial evidence for "missing mass" which in turn leads to the idea of dark (non-baryonic, non-interacting) matter.

Re:missing mass? (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193448)

No, it does not. Allowances were made for brown dwarfs, and they do not in any substantial way bump up the amount of observed mass.

Re:missing mass? (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193494)

Although, the allowances were educated guesses. Real data about the frequency of low-mass cold stars is always welcome, and will help refine models. Unless the actual number of cold dwarf stars is off by multiple orders of magnitudes, though, they aren't sufficient to explain the missing mass.

I tend to think there are massive amounts of planet-sized objects, even smaller and more numerous than dwarf stars, that will be nearly impossible to detect. I don't think they will explain the missing mass, either; I just think it's reasonable to assume they're out there.

Re:missing mass? (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193632)

My understanding, and I'm only going from memory here, is that even if you account for a very liberal number of brown dwarfs, it still doesn't account for anything but a fraction of the missing mass. I would imagine for them to make a significant impact they would have to be very very very common indeed. Maybe they are, and let's bloody well hope we can get an infrared telescope up into orbit which should be able to start answering the frequency of brown dwarfs out there. Still, I have a suspicion that unless galaxies are very densely populated with them, they will only have a modest impact on explaining the missing mass, though I'm sure if they did, every cosmologist would be wiping the sweat from the brows and sleeping easier for it.

Re:missing mass? (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193528)

> does this explain the missing mass...

No. Theory predicts these objects.

> Hundreds of 'em within a 40ly radius?!

They are very small for stars and don't really account for much mass.

No it doesn't (1)

pavon (30274) | more than 3 years ago | (#37194608)

At the start of the search for dark matter there were two major categories of potential mater; WIMPs and MACHOs [wikipedia.org] . The later are large astronomical bodies made of standard matter that are just hard to see, like brown dwarfs, blackholes, and these.

While hard to see directly, we should be able to observe indirect evidence of their existence due to gravitational lensing of objects behind them, and so forth. Since then many surveys of the sky have been performed, using these techniques. If these objects existed in the quantity needed to make up all the missing mass then we would have detected a far greater number of them than we did (at least 2 orders of magnitude more).

So while they surely exist, they can't account for more than a small fraction of the missing mass problem, unless the universe has conspired to place them none of them between us and all the luminous mass in the universe.

Colder than the human body? (1)

Kenoli (934612) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193126)

pfft

Some star.

Re:Colder than the human body? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37194064)

Exactly... WTF I don't think it can be a "Star" without it being a big burning light. This is some horse crap. I feel like crying

oh snap... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37193258)

too bad its not liquid. set up the universe's largest swimming pool.

This is horrible news... (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193270)

It means that Sheldon Cooper will need to change the song he sings when he goes down the stairs and you *know* just how much he hates change!

I wonder how many the Webb telescope would find! (3, Insightful)

Dr. Spork (142693) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193314)

Isn't it cool that we're working on launching an infrared telescope into space, which might discover that there are lots of such things all over the place? Oh wait, congress is suddenly saying that we can't afford it, even though it costs less than the air conditioning budget for 60 days of the Iraq occupation. (link [npr.org] )

Re:I wonder how many the Webb telescope would find (2)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193480)

Do you want to be the one to tell a bunch of soldiers that they have to go without air-conditioning for two months?

Re:I wonder how many the Webb telescope would find (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37193752)

Sure - "Hey guys - you won't get AC anymore... because you won't need it - you are all going home!".

Re:I wonder how many the Webb telescope would find (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37194256)

How about we tell them the bad news is, no more AC in their tents... the good news is they are going home.

Re:I wonder how many the Webb telescope would find (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37193486)

Yeah but it already costs eight times more than Spitzer... and it's not even ready for launch yet!
 
As much as I'd like to see James Webb completed the fact is that there is some dreadful mismanagement on the project. As long as people like you keep trying to draw attention away from the *FACT* that NASA has lost its way we will never see publicly funded, cost-effective, progressive science again.

Re:I wonder how many the Webb telescope would find (1)

snookerhog (1835110) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193520)

never let them see you sweat.

Re:I wonder how many the Webb telescope would find (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37193702)

even though it costs less than the air conditioning budget for 60 days of the Iraq occupation

You are quoting a retired general, who is now making a living by selling "energy efficient" equipment to Pentagon... Are you really that gullible?..

Re:I wonder how many the Webb telescope would find (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37194868)

Nice to know there are still people gullible enough to believe everything they read on the internet. Energy costs != A/C costs.

Wow (1)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193570)

So, this star is cold enough to be the same temperature as the human body? I assume this is at the surface. How the hell does it sustain fusion/fission? It seems to me like its a borderline gas giant or something.

Re:Wow (1)

dxkelly (11295) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193660)

Or maybe our gas giants which are producing more heat then they receive from the sun are Y dwarf stars.

Re:Wow (1)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193734)

Interesting thought. Reminds me of 2010: The year we make contact. Which planets are they?

Re:Wow (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193672)

I think one of the definitions of a brown dwarf is that there is no sustained fusion (I think the larger ones can have limited fusion reactions, but many orders of a magnitude less than even a dim, cool star).

Re:Wow (1)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193750)

Then how exactly is it possible to call it a star at all? Its more like a lone gas giant with possibly a bunch of large moons.

Re:Wow (3, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193810)

I think it's a fuzzy definition, and I don't think there's ever been any consensus on calling them stars. Pretty much every article I've read on them refers to them as brown dwarfs (or M, L, Y or T dwarfs), so I'd fault the editor of that one for sloppy use of the word. I don't think you can call any object that doesn't have sustained fission reactions a star, and certainly not one radiating at around the same temperature as a human body.

Re:Wow (1)

dynamo52 (890601) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193864)

Stars do not use sustain fission.

Re:Wow (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193896)

I think you are getting things upside down here. Hight temperatures inside a star inhibits fusion, that is how a start gets at equilibrium.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37194690)

I think you are getting things upside down here. Hight temperatures inside a star inhibits fusion, that is how a start gets at equilibrium.

Maybe. Isn't it possible to have regions above the center of a star where fusion might be taking place? So fusion could always be happening, but at several places rather than only a central point. Indeed, traveling wavefronts from fusion centers might trigger other locations. A rather massive star would be necessary, of course.

Re:Wow (1)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 3 years ago | (#37195172)

Very well, however a side effect of fusion is heat. So then the absence of significant heat seems like its possible there is no fusion.

Re:Wow (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37194022)

"How the hell does it sustain fusion/fission?"

It doesn't. By definition, a brown dwarf is not massive enough to sustain the proton cycle, but they are massive enough to have burned their initial supply of deuterium. The larger ones are massive enough to have used up their lithium, too. The mass range is from ~13 Jovian masses to somewhere around 75 to 80 Jovian masses. Brown dwarfs are between super-Jovian gas giants and M-class main sequence stars. The definition on the low end is a little fuzzy,

Basically, a brown dwarf is a failed star, massive enough to start burning deuterium, but not massive enough to sustain the proton-cycle. Once they burn up enough of their deuterium, their fusion goes out and they cool off.

Re:Wow (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 3 years ago | (#37195790)

Why does nature have to have all these fuzzy edges and demarcations. It's almost like things just happened, rather than being planned.

Re:Wow (1)

N0Man74 (1620447) | more than 3 years ago | (#37194672)

It's the Fonz Star.

Distribution of the trail (2)

Fractal Dice (696349) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193622)

At what point do we start to see a picture of the small/cold tail of size distributions? One of the questions that interests me greatly is the frequency of rogue planets in the interstellar medium. If you could see a curve of brown dwarf sizes (weighted by the difficulty of detecting them), it would be fun to just naively extend the graph and see how common gas-giant sized objects would be relative to detectable stars.

Re:Distribution of the trail (2)

pz (113803) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193828)

This is one of the big questions for dark matter. Is dark matter really just non-luminous normal matter that we're just either really bad at detecting or really bad at estimating? Are the assumptions of the distributions of dark matter, as extended presumably from luminous matter, correct? Do more stars just burn out and go cold, rather than go nova, than we think? Sure, these are naive musings from someone with only a highly limited knowledge of the field, but they're fun to think about, and rarely get any expert discussion when you see articles about related new discoveries.

Re:Distribution of the trail (1)

cpricejones (950353) | more than 3 years ago | (#37195298)

I.e., what is the failure rate of star formation? Maybe I'm missing something, but these Y dwarfs seem a lot like Jupiters.

Huh. Reminds me of "Permanence" (2)

Dr. Manhattan (29720) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193644)

He posits a large number of these dwarf gas giants, and a spacefaring civilization that lives around them: http://www.kschroeder.com/my-books/permanence [kschroeder.com]

Support life? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37193732)

Room temperature? So could there be life on such Y Dwarves?

Re:Support life? (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | more than 3 years ago | (#37195162)

Depends on the gravitation force in the region that was room temperature. You would need a planet with a very close orbit with all the other neccessary stuff.

The WHOLE thing? (0)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | more than 3 years ago | (#37193966)

WISE scanned the entire sky for these and other objects

I don't think people realize how ludicrous this claim is. To scan the entire sky would require either a wide-angled telescope roughly the size of Mt. Everest and decades, or more likely an average-sized telescope and hundreds of years.

The sky is big. Really fucking big. Your little telescope can scan at most like 0.000000025% of it at once.

Re:The WHOLE thing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37194276)

Yeah, the good folks at NASA are probably lying to us. They probably didn't even send up a $300 million WIDE-FIELD INFRARED SURVEY EXPLORER specifically for the purpose of SCANNING THE ENTIRE SKY for infrared signals, and probably have no idea how difficult such a feat would be to achieve. They really should have contacted you.

Re:The WHOLE thing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37194580)

The claim is not ludicrous. It's perfectly reasonable to scan the entire sky with one telescope. You don't need telescopes, even, if you're willing to accept a sufficiently low resolution. Just look up and around at night - you've scanned half the sky already, though your resolution is "visible to the eye". The higher the resolution, the longer the scan will take, but it's clear this isn't exactly the Hubble Deep Field in terms of resolution.

Re:The WHOLE thing? (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | more than 3 years ago | (#37194604)

Actually it is more like 1/1500000th of the sky at one time. And now that it is done taking a unfathomable (to you) 1.5 million pictures, it has successfully taken a picture of the entire sky.

Why would you just assume that NASA is lying about its capabilities. Presumably you read about [berkeley.edu] the telescope or at least looked at some real info. Are you aware that when you are running a mission you don't use the $100 dollar telescope that parents buy for their kids? Did you realize that a telescope in space can take pictures at any angle it wishes?

Or perhaps you didn't read the article, didn't do any research, and are talking out of your ass instead?

Re:The WHOLE thing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37194964)

Or else you wave your telescope across the entire sky on the first look and only see the brighter objects. Later you carefully look at smaller areas to try to detect fainter objects.

Re:The WHOLE thing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37195170)

You're an idiot.

The "W" in WISE stands for "Wide-field". WISE has scanned 99% of the sky. It has a 47 arcminute field of view, and can take an image every 11 seconds. The sky is big, but it's not that big. Wide-angle telescopes don't have to be large; in the infrared, previous telescopes have been more limited by thermal noise, which is why WISE can do better without being huge.

Re:The WHOLE thing? (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#37195282)

I think what people around have realized is just what a fucking moron you are.

Re:The WHOLE thing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37195842)

You're and idiot.

Planet X? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37194134)

Finding one of these in our galactic neighborhood is quite exciting, and suggests there may be many of these even closer than Proxima Centari.

Shouldn't we put more effort into determining if there are any close enough to effectively send a probe to within our lifetimes? While it's unlikely a planetary system surrounding such a star could support life, it would still be groundbreaking to reach a neighboring star system.

Also, for 2012 nuts, this could mean there is such a heavenly body headed our way that we haven't yet detected! Let's fund the search for more of these!

nearly impossible? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37195500)

"When viewed with a visible-light telescope, they are nearly impossible to see."

Shouldn't that be just "impossible to see."? How could an 80-degree (F) object be seen *at all* through a visible-light telescope, with no nearby visible light source to reflect off of?

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?