back to article Sneaky brown dwarf gives us a bright flash and astroboffins are confused

Astronomers have discovered a brown dwarf star emitting flashes of light brighter than the Sun – even though it's not supposed to be able to do that. Brown dwarves are also known as “failed stars” since they do not generate enough energy to support hydrogen fusion – a process that sustains a star’s brightness over millions of …

  1. Blitheringeejit
    Mushroom

    It's obviously trying to start a fusion reaction...

    ... but is still a bit too cold and damp. A quick squirt of WD40 should result in -->

    1. Sealand
      Mushroom

      Re: It's obviously trying to start a fusion reaction...

      I was going to suggest a new ignition coil, but you could be right.

      1. alain williams Silver badge

        Re: It's obviously trying to start a fusion reaction...

        It needs some obelisks.

      2. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: It's obviously trying to start a fusion reaction...

        a new ignition coil

        One not made by Lucas, Prince of Darkness and Sacred Keeper of the Three-State-Switch*

        * Off, dim and flicker.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's obviously trying to start a fusion reaction...

      They've flooded the engine.

      Leave it for half an hour; and more choke next time.

      1. the spectacularly refined chap

        Re: It's obviously trying to start a fusion reaction...

        They've flooded the engine.

        Leave it for half an hour; and more choke next time.

        Too much choke is the cause of a flooded engine...

    3. Fungus Bob Silver badge
      Alien

      Re: It's obviously trying to start a fusion reaction...

      Maybe the space aliens are using a big can of starting fluid...

    4. You aint sin me, roit
      Paris Hilton

      Re: It's obviously trying to start a fusion reaction...

      Don't stars run on a diesel principle? Either the injectors need more pressure or the heater coil needs to be upgraded.

      "It's just not hot enough, Cap'n"

      (Hilton for comparison)

  2. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

    "The Sun's acne going away"

    So that explains sun spots then

  3. Andy 73

    Slowly, the almost-sun..

    ..tapped out it's morse code message...

    I

    AM

    ALIVE

    1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

      Re: Slowly, the almost-sun..

      For now: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whipping_Star

  4. chris 17 Bronze badge
    Megaphone

    SI or reg units please otherwise it makes no sense.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      SI or reg units please otherwise it makes no sense.

      Yes, I read "4400...half as hot as the Sun" and simply thought "that's wrong". Then I went back...

      Do American astronomers have all their instruments specially calibrated to read degrees F? Somehow I doubt it, and suspect somebody actually converted that from either C or K.

      Perhaps for completeness we should have degrees Réaumur as well. And Galilean air thermometer units.

      1. Little Mouse
        Boffin

        Re: SI or reg units please otherwise it makes no sense.

        "half as hot as the sun"?

        Twice as cold more like.

        Easy.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: SI or reg units please otherwise it makes no sense.

        "Do American astronomers have all their instruments specially calibrated to read degrees F? Somehow I doubt it, and suspect somebody actually converted that from either C or K."

        Yes, I've noticed similar oddities on El Reg recently, more so than usual, and almost invariably from the El Reg Western Colonial Office. Science is metric/SI, even in the far flung colonies, but for some weird reason the Colonial writers always convert to old fashioned UK Imperial measurements for their local target audience, assuming they can't convert if needed or just putting the original value and a conversion in brackets.

        I think the oddest examples are where an estimated value is given in the original and then converted exactly by the author or editor, eg "about 3000 metres" will be converted to "about 9842 feet" instead of rounding and just saying 10,000 feet or 9,800 feet. It's madness I tell you, madness!!!

    2. Roger Greenwood

      240.6667 Hiltons

      http://www.theregister.co.uk/Design/page/reg-standards-converter.html

  5. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    Typical of your carburettor based stars...

    Twin Weber 40's I'll bet. Just spray some Quick Start into the air intakes and hold the choke out. She'll go eventually.

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Typical of your carburettor based stars...

      Nah, it's the battery.

      Now where are those jump leads...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Typical of your carburettor based stars...Nah, it's the battery.

        Isn't that more or less the actual explanation? Even at only around 3000K, there's still enough plasma to build up some pretty big currents. Solar coronal ejections are associated with enormous magnetic fields acting on plasma and suddenly switching direction. [yes I know this is a gross oversimplification].

        1. Wzrd1

          Re: Typical of your carburettor based stars...Nah, it's the battery.

          That's about it, still fairly hot, decent currents flowing, strong enough magnetic field to become tangled and reconnect and hence, generate a flare.

  6. lglethal Silver badge
    Pint

    Come now, we all know this is just the lights from the latest concert of Disaster Area!

    Not content with spending a year dead for tax purposes, they've now come back bigger and louder (and brighter) then ever before!

    1. Alfie
      Flame

      RE: Disaster Area

      Maybe if we drop a small spacecraft into the brown dwarf we can bump start the star?

      Edit: We could fill the spacecraft with WD-40?

    2. Fibbles
      Coat

      That could only be true if the emissions were of black light.

      1. D@v3

        re: black light

        How black?

        1. Little Mouse

          Re: re: black light

          The answer is None. None more black.

  7. agurney

    needs a new starter switch; it's acting just like a dodgy fluorescent tube

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Just one of those early CFL stars then, probably best to replace it with an LED (Light Emitting Dwarf).

  8. 27escape
    Mushroom

    aliens sending messages

    may be easier than gravity waves

    icon, cos it matches

  9. james 68

    I wonder

    How long before Rush Limbaugh blames it on secret ISIS messages by those nefarious Muslims and calls for a ban on brown dwarfs closely followed by an invasion to put them in their place?

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: I wonder

      Great idea, send him on the B-arks first

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: I wonder

        Rumor has it, he goes first... the other B-Ark denizens don't want him either.

  10. AceRimmer1980
    IT Angle

    Oil & Rust

    It's the Colonial fleet being scuttled.

  11. Ralph B
    Childcatcher

    Are we sure it was a Brown Dwarf?

    If it was Red Dwarf, seeing Craig Charles flashing would have been less surprising.

    1. Dwarf Silver badge

      Re: Are we sure it was a Brown Dwarf?

      Whats wrong with Brown Dwarf's ???

      I might get offended !

      1. InfiniteApathy
        Coffee/keyboard

        Re: Are we sure it was a Brown Dwarf?

        Nothing, just keep it in your pants next time - geez.

  12. energystar
    Paris Hilton

    "Sneaky brown dwarf gives us a bright flash"

    Thought that was a Tokyo thing...

  13. Neoc

    0K->?K

    All this discussion about temperature has me thinking:

    We know there's a theoretical minimum for temperature: 0 Kelvin. But is there a theoretical maximum?

    1. Wzrd1

      Re: 0K->?K

      As a matter of fact, there is such a thing postulated.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absolute_hot

  14. John Jennings

    Someone cracked the dyson sphere

    Or they have a vent in its surface to radiate the excess heat.

    That's no star - its an effing big ship

    1. MT Field

      Re: Someone cracked the dyson sphere

      And it's just testing the weapons system.

      So if that is about 2000K that's not brown at all, that would be bright yellow in colour. Ew.

  15. Vic

    That's no star...

    ...It's a navigation beacon...

    Vic.

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