Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Stellar Discovery Breaks Rules, Inspires New Class

Astronomers have stumbled upon a brown dwarf star (15-30 times the size of Jupiter) with a surface temperature of just 660 degrees Fahrenheit, reports Discovery News. That’s about the same temperature as Mercury’s surface, less than Venus (867 degrees) and way less than the surface of our Sun (11,000 degrees)

The newly discovered brown dwarf (dubbed CFBDS0059) is so cool it doesn’t even glow. In fact, without special equipment (infrared sensors) you can’t even see it, not even with a telescope. The cool dwarf is so unusual, it’s forced astronomers to create an entirely new stellar class, “Y class dwarf.”

Why Y? The other two classes of dwarf are L and T. Perhaps it’s a Y-class dwarf as in, Y isn’t this a planet? According to Discover News, the Y-Class wonder falls “right smack in the middle of the final frontier that divides mega-planets from the puniest stars.”

The Discover piece doesn’t explain exactly why the new dwarf isn’t a planet. But Pound360 guesses there must be nuclear fusion at the core instead of a ball of rock (which is at the center of gas giants like Jupiter).

Pound360 first came across
this story at Slashdot.

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Pound360 Archive

About Me

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.