Water Clouds Detected Outside The Solar System

brown dwarf

Water clouds have been detected for the first time in history.

BEACON TRANSCRIPT – Water clouds have been detected for the first time in history, on a giant body outside our solar system.  Latest research revealed that the object called WISE 0855, approximately seven light-years away from Earth has clouds of water, or water ice in the atmosphere. The huge body is called a brown giant, something between a planet and an extinguished star.

The object is expected to have water clouds, and so far, there is strong evidence to suggest that it does. Study author Andrew Skemer confirmed the information that the frigid brown dwarf may have an atmosphere containing water-ice clouds.

WISE 0855 is similar to Jupiter, only five times more massive, which makes it a brown dwarf. An object larger than a planet but too small to initiate the fusion reaction that powers real stars. Sometimes these objects are called failed stars. The dwarf was discovered in 2014, using an infrared spacecraft, but the existence of water was questioned due to insufficient data.

Now, Skemer and colleagues have used the Gemini North telescope set in Hawaii to study the brown object for a period of fourteen days. This telescope is situated at an altitude with almost no water vapors, so nothing interferes with observations.

Following these observations, experts made the first light fingerprint measurement (or spectroscopy) of WISE 0855.They found water vapor at around a temperature of 10 degrees Fahrenheit. For comparison, Jupiter’s clouds have minus 225 degrees Fahrenheit in temperature.

The brown dwarf is five times less lit up than any other object discovered with ground technology up to date. Now scientists can take a closer look at the object. Observations show that WISE 0855 has an appearance very similar to Jupiter’s. The difference is that the amount of phosphine (a chemical compound of hydrogen and phosphorous) is less found in WISE 0855’s atmosphere, whereas Jupiter has a lot of that compound.

Phosphine usually appears in the hot core of objects, so its presence in atmospherical composition points to the fact that a lot of impacts and mixing have happened. That’s why Jupiter’s atmosphere is more turbulent than the atmosphere of WISE 0855, the study revealed.

Findings were published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Image Source – Wikipedia