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NASA says some kinds of stars have their own weather (and it's lousy)

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Western Ontario/Stony Brook U

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Western Ontario/Stony Brook U


Daniel Martins
Digital Reporter

Saturday, January 11, 2014, 2:23 PM -

"Sunny weather" may have a completely different and very literal meaning above the surfaces of brown dwarves.

Those are stars that are relatively smaller and cooler than our own sun, basically a step up from gas giants - but new observations by NASA suggest they might actually have weather patterns.

Specifically, strong winds and storm clouds, and probably some of the most violent lightning in the universe.

Yes, even rain, or at least a nightmarish analogue.

Although Brown Dwarves aren't as hot as "regular" stars, they're still toasty enough that liquid water is unlikely.

Rather, the rain, like the clouds, is probably made of hot sand, salts or even molten iron.

Astronomers developed a clearer idea of this weird weather after NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope observed dozens of Brown Dwarves.

"As [they] spin on their axis, the alteration of what we think are cloud-free and cloudy regions produces periodic brightness variation that we can observe," Stanimir Metchev of the University of Western Ontario, said in a statement on NASA's website. "These are signs of patchiness in cloud cover."

It turns out most brown dwarves may have weather patterns, a crucial discovery that could help scientists understand weather on gas giants outside our solar system.

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