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Aurora discovered outside our solar system


Posted on Thursday, 30 July, 2015 | Comment icon 10 comments

The Northern Lights as seen over Norway. Image Credit: CC BY 2.0 Carsten Frenzl
A glow similar to the Northern Lights has been picked up around a brown dwarf star 20 light years away.
The discovery marks the first time that such a phenomenon has been observed outside of our own solar system and suggests that brown dwarfs are a lot more like planets than previously realized.

"Brown dwarfs span the gap between stars and planets and these results are yet more evidence that we need to think of brown dwarfs as beefed-up planets, rather than ‘failed stars’'," said Dr Stuart Littlefair from the University of Sheffield.


The aurora display is produced when charged particles enter a planet's magnetic field and collide with the gas atoms in its atmosphere. In contrast to the Northern Lights here on Earth however the aurora on the brown dwarf star is a lot redder in color and thousands of times more intense.

"We're finding that brown dwarfs are not like small stars in terms of their magnetic activity; they're like giant planets with hugely powerful auroras," said Dr Gregg Hallinan.

Source: Independent | Comments (10)

Tags: Aurora, Northern Lights

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Norbert the Incredible on 30 July, 2015, 7:05
More red than green in colour *knods knowledgeably*
Comment icon #2 Posted by BeastieRunner on 30 July, 2015, 20:13
Astrophysicists have been on a role lately.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Sundew on 30 July, 2015, 20:19
Aurorae as I remember are generated by the solar wind interacting with a planet's atmosphere. Other than Earth I know we have seen them on Saturn, and probably other planets in our system, I just haven't kept up with it. However, if the brown dwarf is the "star" within its system and not a "planet" what is interacting with its atmosphere to create the aurora? Interesting. Perhaps it is generating its own "solar wind" of particles and reacting with its own atmosphere?
Comment icon #4 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 30 July, 2015, 20:58
Aurorae as I remember are generated by the solar wind interacting with a planet's atmosphere. Other than Earth I know we have seen them on Saturn, and probably other planets in our system, I just haven't kept up with it. All the gas giants and Mars have been observed to have aurorae. However, if the brown dwarf is the "star" within its system and not a "planet" what is interacting with its atmosphere to create the aurora? Interesting. Perhaps it is generating its own "solar wind" of particles and reacting with its own atmosphere? From the original article: "It is possible material is being str... [More]
Comment icon #5 Posted by bubblykiss on 31 July, 2015, 0:31
A brown dwarf wearing a crown of light, such arrogance from the stars these days.
Comment icon #6 Posted by third_eye on 31 July, 2015, 9:21
hmmmm ... Red and green paint mix to make brown, a darker color. I think there is some concerns here in regards to additive or subtractive color mixing and outcomes ~ color by way of light and color by manner of paint/pigments are not the same ... ~ Red and green light mix to make yellow, a lighter color. comcast net link
Comment icon #7 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 31 July, 2015, 9:44
third _ eye, forgive me if I'm being thick here, but I totally fail to see the relevance of your post. Until you no one had even mentioned colour mixing.
Comment icon #8 Posted by third_eye on 31 July, 2015, 11:43
third _ eye, forgive me if I'm being thick here, but I totally fail to see the relevance of your post. Until you no one had even mentioned colour mixing. Nahhh nothing doing with thick or thin , I was just curious about the colors ~ More red than green in colour *knods knowledgeably* ... being this is illumination and not pigment I wondered how brown got into the picture ~ A brown dwarf wearing a crown of light, such arrogance from the stars these days. ~ my fault actually if anything is at all at fault ... `
Comment icon #9 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 31 July, 2015, 11:56
... being this is illumination and not pigment I wondered how brown got into the picture ~ Brown dwarfs give off most of their radiation in the infrared, so they would probably be a very dull red to the unaided eye... however the name red dwarf was already taken. When they were first hypothesized they were referred to as black dwarfs, but that term had also already been taken. Brown was the closest colour to how they would appear so they were called brown dwarfs. In other words, you are taking the name a little too literally.
Comment icon #10 Posted by third_eye on 31 July, 2015, 12:00
Brown dwarfs give off most of their radiation in the infrared, so they would probably be a very dull red to the unaided eye... however the name red dwarf was already taken. When they were first hypothesized they were referred to as black dwarfs, but that term had also already been taken. Brown was the closest colour to how they would appear so they were called brown dwarfs. In other words, you are taking the name a little too literally. as I suspected my good Sir ... I can't help it as I am schooled in the Fine Arts being colors is kinda a pet skill set of mine apart from the fact that I am ob... [More]


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