Free Newsletters - Space News - Defense Alert - Environment Report - Energy Monitor
. 24/7 Space News .




STELLAR CHEMISTRY
NASA Telescopes See Weather Patterns in Brown Dwarf
by Staff Writers
Pasadena CA (JPL) Jan 11, 2013


This artist's illustration shows the atmosphere of a brown dwarf called 2MASSJ22282889-431026, which was observed simultaneously by NASA's Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes. The results were unexpected, revealing offset layers of material as indicated in the diagram. For example, the large, bright patch in the outer layer has shifted to the right in the inner layer. The observations indicate this brown dwarf -- a ball of gas that "failed" to become a star -- is marked by wind-driven, planet-size clouds. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. For a larger version of this image please go here.

Astronomers using NASA's Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes have probed the stormy atmosphere of a brown dwarf, creating the most detailed "weather map" yet for this class of cool, star-like orbs. The forecast shows wind-driven, planet-sized clouds enshrouding these strange worlds.

Brown dwarfs form out of condensing gas, as stars do, but lack the mass to fuse hydrogen atoms and produce energy. Instead, these objects, which some call failed stars, are more similar to gas planets with their complex, varied atmospheres. The new research is a stepping-stone toward a better understanding not only of brown dwarfs, but also of the atmospheres of planets beyond our solar system.

"With Hubble and Spitzer, we were able to look at different atmospheric layers of a brown dwarf, similar to the way doctors use medical imaging techniques to study the different tissues in your body," said Daniel Apai, the principal investigator of the research at the University of Arizona in Tucson, who presented the results at the American Astronomical Society meeting Tuesday in Long Beach, Calif.

A study describing the results, led by Esther Buenzli, also of the University of Arizona, is published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The researchers turned Hubble and Spitzer simultaneously toward a brown dwarf with the long name of 2MASSJ22282889-431026. They found that its light varied in time, brightening and dimming about every 90 minutes as the body rotated. But more surprising, the team also found the timing of this change in brightness depended on whether they looked using different wavelengths of infrared light.

These variations are the result of different layers or patches of material swirling around the brown dwarf in windy storms as large as Earth itself. Spitzer and Hubble see different atmospheric layers because certain infrared wavelengths are blocked by vapors of water and methane high up, while other infrared wavelengths emerge from much deeper layers.

"Unlike the water clouds of Earth or the ammonia clouds of Jupiter, clouds on brown dwarfs are composed of hot grains of sand, liquid drops of iron, and other exotic compounds," said Mark Marley, research scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., and co-author of the paper. "So this large atmospheric disturbance found by Spitzer and Hubble gives a new meaning to the concept of extreme weather."

Buenzli says this is the first time researchers can probe variability at several different altitudes at the same time in the atmosphere of a brown dwarf.

"Although brown dwarfs are cool relative to other stars, they are actually hot by earthly standards. This particular object is about 1,100 to 1,300 degrees Fahrenheit (600 to 700 degrees Celsius)," Buenzli said.

"What we see here is evidence for massive, organized cloud systems, perhaps akin to giant versions of the Great Red Spot on Jupiter," said Adam Showman, a theorist at the University of Arizona involved in the research.

"These out-of-sync light variations provide a fingerprint of how the brown dwarf's weather systems stack up vertically. The data suggest regions on the brown dwarf where the weather is cloudy and rich in silicate vapor deep in the atmosphere coincide with balmier, drier conditions at higher altitudes -- and vice versa."

Researchers plan to look at the atmospheres of dozens of additional nearby brown dwarfs using Spitzer and Hubble.

"From studies such as this we will learn much about this important class of objects, whose mass falls between that of stars and Jupiter-sized planets," said Glenn Wahlgren, Spitzer program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "This technique will see extensive use when we are able to image individual exoplanets."

.


Related Links
Spitzer at Caltech
Spitzer at NASA
Stellar Chemistry, The Universe And All Within It






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





STELLAR CHEMISTRY
UT Arlington researchers try new approach for simulating supernovas
Arlington VA (SPX) Jan 11, 2013
Two University of Texas at Arlington researchers want to bridge the gap between what is known about exploding stars and the remnants left behind thousands of years later. So they're trying something new - using SNSPH, a complex computer code developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory. On Tuesday, Carola I. Ellinger, a post-doctoral researcher at UT Arlington, and Sangwook Park, an assista ... read more


STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Mission would drag asteroid to the moon

Russia designs manned lunar spacecraft

GRAIL Lunar Impact Site Named for Astronaut Sally Ride

NASA probes crash into the moon

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Mars500 project - salt balance of the Mars 'astronauts'

Simulated mission to Mars reveals critical data about sleep needs for astronauts

NASA's Big Mars Rover Makes First Use Of Its Brush

Lockheed Martin Delivered Core Structure For First GOES-R Satellite

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
AXE to Send 22 Guys to Space with New Apollo Campaign

IBM tops as tech titans scramble for US patents

Chinese tech firms pump up volume at CES

High fashion, high tech intersect at CES confab

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Mr Xi in Space

China plans manned space launch in 2013: state media

China to launch manned spacecraft

Tiangong 1 Parked And Waiting As Shenzhou 10 Mission Prep Continues

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Crew Wraps Up Robonaut Testing

Station Crew Ringing in New Year

Expedition 34 Ready to Ring in New Year

New ISS crew docked at Space Station

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Arianespace's industry leadership will continue with 12 launcher family missions planned in 2013

Arianespace addresses The Insurance Institute of London

Cargo loading underway with the next ATV resupply spacecraft to be launched by Ariane 5

SpaceX sets March 1 for launch to ISS

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Earth-size planets common in galaxy

NASA's Hubble Reveals Rogue Planetary Orbit For Fomalhaut B

NASA, ESA Telescopes Find Evidence for Asteroid Belt Around Vega

Kepler Gets a Little Help From Its Friends

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
How the kilogram has put on weight

Japan to survey Pacific seabed for rare earth

3D printing creates 'virtual' fossil

LEON: the space chip that Europe built




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement