Space & Astronomy
Distant water clouds detected for first time
By T.K. Randall
July 9, 2016 · 4 comments
The brown dwarf WISE 0855 is relatively close by. Image Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech
Scientists have identified water clouds around a brown dwarf star that is 7.2 light years from the Earth.
The discovery, which was made by a team at the University of California-Santa Cruz, represents the first time water clouds have ever been conclusively picked up outside of our own solar system.
They were found around WISE 0855 - a brown dwarf star around five times the mass of Jupiter.
The find confirms earlier observations made back in 2014 of possible water clouds around the star using NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) telescope.
The new research involved observing the star with the Gemini-North telescope in Hawaii over the course of 13 nights to obtain the first ever spectrum measurements of its atmosphere.
"Our spectrum shows that WISE 0855 is dominated by water vapor and clouds, with an overall appearance that is strikingly similar to Jupiter," said astrophysicist Andrew Skemer.
Source: The Verge
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Water Clouds, Brown Dwarf
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