Newly discovered stellar body is colder than the North Pole
Friday, April 25, 2014, 4:29 PM -
It's not quite a star, not quite a gas giant, but NASA's latest find is for sure not a hot one.
The newly discovered 'brown dwarf' WISE J085510.83-071442.5 (NASA names can be complicated) is believed to boast temperatures ranging from -48C to 13C, meaning that, at any given time, much of our planet is actually warmer than this object.
As a brown dwarf, it's a member of a class of stellar bodies that are large sources of gas, but aren't massive enough to actually ignite into a full-blown star.
It was spotted by NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer and the Spitzer Space Telescope, and it's the coldest-known brown dwarf. It's also notable for being really close to our own solar system, at 7.2 light years away, a tiny distance by galactic standards. By contrast, the Alpha Centauri system is around four light years away.
"It is remarkable that even after many decades of studying the sky, we still do not have a complete inventory of the sun's nearest neighbours," Michael Werner, the project scientist for Spitzer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a NASA statement.
The newly discovered brown dwarf is believed to be between three and 10 times the mass of Jupiter.
The previous record holders for coldest brown dwarf were 'around room temperature', according to NASA.