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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Astronomers find planet-like object circling a brown dwarf star

Using the Hubble Space Telescope scientists have discovered a planet-like object circling a
 brown dwarf star.The object is estimated to be 5-10 times the mass of Jupiter, and was estimated to have been formed less than one million years ago.

"Kamen Todorov of Penn State University and co-investigators used the keen eyesight of the Hubble Space Telescope and the Gemini Observatory to directly image the companion of the brown dwarf, which was uncovered in a survey of 32 young brown dwarfs in the Taurus star-forming region. Brown dwarfs are objects that typically are tens of times the mass of Jupiter and are too small to sustain nuclear fusion to shine as stars do."

"The mystery object orbits the nearby brown dwarf at a separation of approximately 2.25 billion miles (3.6 billion kilometers), which is between the distances of Saturn and Uranus from the Sun"

The object  whose image I have included above has been named 2M J044144 :
Source of image: Gemini Observatory

The constellation Taurus,  is composed of these stars:

Taurus is one of the constellations of the zodiac.Taurus is a large and prominent constellation in the northern hemisphere's winter sky, between Aries to the west and Gemini to the east; to the north lie Perseus and Auriga, to the southeast Orion, to the south Eridanus, and to the southwest Cetus.

What is a brown dwarf star you ask?

I will let an expert answer this for you:

"Well firstly, a "star"  is a a body of gas visible to our naked eye. Stars are different colors because they "are hot and emit radiation. All matter emits radiation, peaking at a wavelength (which can sometimes be seen as a color) which is dependent solely on the temperature of the body. This is known as Wein's law (pronounced Veen's law)."

"Most objects we encounter in everyday life are somewhere around room temperature. Give or take a few thousand degrees. This effect, known as blackbody radiation, happens to all objects, regardless of it's temperature. Objects which have a surface temperature just a few degrees above absolute zero (which is -273 c.) radiate most of their radiation in the form of radio waves. Hotter than that, and the object glows in microwaves."

"After that, it radiates largely in the form of infrared waves. Hotter still, and the object glows red, then orange, yellow, green, then blue. This is the reason metal glows when it is hot. When the temperature is hot enough to have the atoms or molecules moving at wildly different speeds at the surface, all at around room temperature, the object will be seen to glow white hot, as white light is made from a composite of all the visible colors."

"When an object reaches a temperature where it becomes too hot to radiate black body radiation in the visible wavelengths, it will shine in ultraviolet wavelengths. Hotter still, x-rays, and finally gamma rays."

"Why does this happen? Because as an object grows hotter, there is, logically, more energy being released. As the energy level of radiation is increased, the wavelength becomes shorter and shorter. When the human eye perceives different wavelengths of visible light, we interpret it as different colors. This is why a rainbow always appears with the same colors in the same order. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. You will never see a rainbow with any other colors, or with the colors in any other order."

"The coolest stars are around 3,000 degrees c. They are the red stars. Stars like the sun are next, glowing at about 6,000 degrees c., and are, ... orange/yellow."


What is a dwarf star?
Scientists define a "dwarf" star to be "any star of average or low luminosity, mass, and size." (source: )

"Brown dwarfs, a term coined by Jill Tarter in 1975, were originally called black dwarfs, a classification for dark substellar objects floating freely in space which were too low in mass to sustain stable hydrogen fusion)." source:

It is wonderful that the Hubble Space Telescope was constructed so we can see other parts of the universe.


Mr_Toad said...

It's becoming difficult to have any faith in finding factual data from the internet in various areas - including astronomical findings. Googling seems to produce a cornocopia of facts, scientific conjecture and doomsday merchants. So my first question is - how is one to sift through the chaff to find the wheat?

Second question - what is your opinion about the Nemesis star (described below)? Is this wheat or chaff or a mixture of both?

You gotta love the idea of the "The Sun" newspaper (disreputable English tabloid) calling it's reporter the 'Sun Spaceman'! Here goes:


Published: 12 Mar 2010

An invisible star may be circling the Sun and causing deadly comets to bombard the Earth, scientists said yesterday

The brown dwarf - up to five times the size of Jupiter - could be to blame for mass extinctions that occur here every 26 million years.

The star - nicknamed Nemesis by Nasa scientists - would be invisible as it only emits infrared light and is incredibly distant.

Nemesis is believed to orbit our solar system at 25,000 times the distance of the Earth to the Sun.

As it spins through the galaxy, its gravitational pull drags icy bodies out of the Oort Cloud - a vast sphere of rock and dust twice as far away as Nemesis.

These "snowballs" are thrown towards Earth as comets, causing devastation similar to the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

Now Nasa boffins believe they will be able to find Nemesis using a new heat-seeking telescope that began scanning the skies in January.

The Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer - expected to find a thousand brown dwarfs within 25 light years of the Sun - has already sent back a photo of a comet possibly dislodged from the Oort Cloud.

Scientists' first clue to the existence of Nemesis was the bizarre orbit of a dwarf planet called Sedna.

Boffins believe its unusual, 12,000-year-long oval orbit could be explained by a massive celestial body.

Mike Brown, who discovered Sedna in 2003, said: "Sedna is a very odd object - it shouldn't be there.

"The only way to get on an eccentric orbit is to have some giant body kick you - so what is out there?"

Professor John Matese, of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, said most comets come from the same part of the Oort Cloud.

He added: "There is statistically significant evidence that this concentration of comets could be caused by a companion to the Sun."

Wayne said...

I certainly agree with your comments. If you are looking for facts on the internet, I use these rules:(which you may or may not agree with or find useful).

1.If the information is scientific or factual, I always try to find who authored the information. Does this person have some sort of training or education in the field, and if so what is this education and is it relevant to the topic.

2.I go to more than one website and see if the information at one website is supported by "experts" or people with experience at other websites. This makes the information more reliable (reliability is a math term you might like to look it up .

3.I then look at the information and try to determine what I feel is the most logical view of the facts (of course if the subject you are dealing with has issues, then everyone can have their own opinion about these). Then I incorporate these facts into my new interpretation of a situation,circumstance, or phenonomenon.

In regards to the Nemesis star (thanks for the information and link). If something is thought to be invisible, it is very difficult to prove it exists, unless there are traces of it which alter the universe. If you go to this link:

you will find this statement: "I think the possibility that the Sun could harbor a companion of another sort is not a crazy idea," said Kirkpatrick. "There might be a distant object in a more stable, more circular orbit that has gone unnoticed so far."

If an expert says this, then we have to conclude that it is entirely possible for this phenomenom to exist. People didn't believe the earth could possibly be round, until Eratosthenes, calculated the Earth's radius around 1700 BC.He used the distance between two cities and the angle of the sun's rays made at midsummer at noon. His measurement turned out to be 15 percent too large, but still impressive, considering it was done over 2600 years ago. People simply refused to accept this conclusive evidence until almost 2000 years later when Magellan sailed around the world (Magellan was actually killed en route, but his crew completed the voyage.)

Proving anything is difficult,that is why scientists create hypotheses and test them, and then
state if something is correlated (related ) to something else. This does not mean that a causes b, but rather that there seems to be ar elationship between a and b. Until there is proof that this invisible star exists, then we have to take this idea as conjecture and speculation and a guess about the true circumstances which may have caused these mass extinctions years ago. Fascinating and thank you for telling me about "Nemesis", I hadn't heard of it before you mentioned it.

Best wishes to you,
and thanks for the fascinating conversation :)

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Thoughts worth thinking about

"Our subconscious minds have no sense of humor, play no jokes and cannot tell the difference between reality and an imagined thought or image. What we continually think about eventually will manifest in our lives."-Sidney Madwed

Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every woman and man present their views without penalty, there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.- Albert Einstein Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. - Leo Buscaglia

A person's true wealth is the good he or she does in the world. - Mohammed

Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. -Albert Einstein

The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others. - Ghandi

The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves. - Helen Keller

Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make yourself a happier and more productive person. - Dr. David M. Burns

Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures. -His Holiness The Dalai Lama

Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it. -

Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That's the essence of inhumanity. -George Bernard Shaw

Ego's trick is to make us lose sight of our interdependence. That kind of ego-thought gives us a perfect justification to look out only for ourselves. But that is far from the truth. In reality we all depend on each other and we have to help each other. The husband has to help his wife, the wife has to help the husband, the mother has to help her children, and the children are supposed to help the parents too, whether they want to or not.-Gehlek Rinpoche Source: "The Best Buddhist Writing 2005 pg. 165

The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events---that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies---and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.