A dead pixel to me...
NASA boffins have left followers of the space news reeling today, saying they have discovered an intriguing extra-solar object described as being both "big, fat" and "a dwarf". The big dwarf - again varyingly described as "brown" or alternatively "green" - also "stinks pretty badly". The brown dwarf WISEPC J045853.90+643451.9 …
Well, a gaseous ball at least 13 times the mass of Jupiter, in order to reach Brown Dwarf status.
And for comparison, it's around 80 Jupiter masses to form a proper star - and our Sun is 1000 Jupiter masses, so 80 Jupiter masses would be a fairly piddly little star.
Well, I was hoping for some science journalism, so I guess we're both disappointed.
Though the Reg article is only about 2/3 of the length of the NASA one, that does seem to have been done at the expense of more than a third of the information, and despite the NASA article seemingly having been written with a young audience in mind, it's arguably more adult overall.
"And that how it was for the next ten nights
a flair spurting out from Mars
Bright green drawing a green mist behind it
A beautiful but somehow disturbing sight
Ogilvy the astronomer assured me we were in no danger
He was convinced there could be no live
on that remote forbidding planet."
War of the Worlds
Stock up on Yakult... good bacteria
While brown dwarfs are more massive than Jupiter, they are about the same size. Once gas giants reach about the size of Saturn, they stop growing significantly -- they just become denser. Only when fusion starts, does the size increase again. For example, Jupiter is 3.3 times as massive as Saturn, but its volume is only 1.6 times larger.
So what's special about another brown dwarf? This is scientific peanuts 'bigged-up' for children, journalists and politicians.
The important results in the infra-red at the moment are coming out of Herschel - an ESA spacecraft. Too much American focus, and you miss the real action.
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