Take a (peacefully quiet) tour through and beyond our solar system to visit a neighboring brown dwarf — a sort of failed star that’s too large to be called a planet — called W0855. A team of scientists, led by Carnegie’s Jacqueline Faherty, captured and combined 151 photos taken over three nights. Those images indicate that W0855 has frozen clouds of sulfide and water. This is a first:
Water ice clouds exist on our own gas giant planets–Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune–but have not been seen outside of the planets orbiting our Sun until now…
The object, named WISE J085510.83-071442.5, or W0855, was first seen by NASA’s Wide-Field Infrared Explorer mission and published earlier this year. But it was not known if it could be detected by Earth-based facilities.
“This was a battle at the telescope to get the detection,” said Faherty.
Chris Tinney, an Astronomer at the Australian Centre for Astrobiology, UNSW Australia and co-author on the result stated: “This is a great result. This object is so faint and it’s exciting to be the first people to detect it with a telescope on the ground.”
What will the next generation of more powerful telescopes reveal?Related watching: The Giant Magellan Telescope, Laniakea: Our home supercluster and How can we know anything about distant exoplanets?