Coldest-ever brown dwarf discovered

Astronomers have discovered the coldest-ever failed star with a surface temperature of 100o C. To give you some perspective, consider: 1) the hardiest Finns can easily withstand 120o C saunas; and 2) our Sun, a relatively mediocre star, has a surface temperature of almost 5,500o C.

This lukewarm object, called CFBDSIR J1458+1013B, appears to be a brown dwarf, a class of objects somewhere between star and super-planet. The distinction between star and brown dwarf is clear — a star is only a star if it undergoes nuclear fusion in its core — but the distinction between brown dwarf and super-planet isn’t as clear.  Brown dwarfs are all about the same size as Jupiter, but they pack a lot of mass into that space — at the high end of the range, they can be 90 times the mass of Jupiter — and unlike planets, they sometimes emit X-rays. CFBDSIR J1458+1013B is at the lower end of the range with a mass of about 6-15 Jupiter-masses. With its super-cool surface temperature, astronomers speculate that it could even have water clouds in its atmosphere.

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13 thoughts on “Coldest-ever brown dwarf discovered

  1. Glancing at the journal paper, it appears to be in a binary system. The companion is also a brown dwarf.

  2. I got to admit that 120C sauna is a borderline pleasant experience. My grandfather used to refuse to go into sauna before it was at least 100C and it had to be still rising, but for me and my father that was the ideal temperature. However, most Finns prefer 80C as the temperature when to enter the sauna.

    Now if there would be an icy lake to jump into then this brown dwarf would start sounding like “ideal”…

  3. Actually, Finns would choose the remotest, most hostile systems they could find just so nobody else would follow them there. That is, after all, why they live in Finland. There would only be problems if Russian or Swedish interlopers tried to invade and rule the Sauna Systems.

  4. As a matter of fact Sarah was on a right / historical track when saying that Finns would try to find the most remote planet to populate (albeit sparsely). The desire for isolation in Finnish culture becomes evident through genetic research—while very diverse (i.e. an average Finn has eight distinctive nationalities present in his/her genetic composition), it is still very stagnant as well.

    It leads to the conclusion that only times there was major “blood exchange” in Finland was through invasion (i.e. Swedes [my bloodline] and Russians), merchant activities (German Hansa Merchants, Dutch, British, etc.), and trickle effect of people simply trying to get away from the more populous parts of Europe.

    But all these major events have taken place hundreds of year ago and since then it’s been…yes…pretty stagnant.

    The end result is that Finns have ~50 distinctive hereditary ailments due to this isolation.

    Now this opens up an interesting topic on how well would an isolated, small colony fare on a planet? What would the genetic implications be?

    I am not trained in genetics, but I could see that if the colony would be made of people who are the farthest apart from each other–genetically speaking–that the colony would be “safe” from the effects of inbreeding … at least for awhile.

  5. That’s an interesting point you bring up. I wonder how genetically diverse a colonizing population would have to be to stave off problems?

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