(ORDO NEWS) — NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope was able to study in detail a strange distant world shrouded in dense clouds that are saturated with silicate grains.
Analyzing the data, astronomers have found strong evidence for the presence of silicate-rich clouds around the brown dwarf , which is nearly 20 times the size of Jupiter . The find confirms some of the earlier theories about these strange planet-like worlds.
Brown dwarfs are very unusual objects that are too big to be normal planets, but not massive enough to be stars. Brown dwarfs cannot “burn” ordinary hydrogen, but they can still generate their own light and heat using deuterium (a less common isotope of hydrogen that contains an extra neutron).
The brown dwarf star in the study is designated VHS 1256 b and orbits two small red dwarfs about 72 light-years from Earth in the constellation Corvus.
The brown dwarf was discovered in 2016 and has puzzled scientists ever since with its reddish glow.
Astronomers speculated that some special type of atmosphere might be causing the glow, but they had too little data to verify this.
Observations with the James Webb Space Telescope confirmed this theory, showing that the dwarf VHS 1256 b is shrouded in thick clouds saturated with sand-like silicate grains
In addition, “James Webb” found water, methane, carbon monoxide and dioxide, sodium and potassium in the atmosphere of VHS 1256 b.
It is worth noting that the James Webb data were so detailed that they made it possible to identify changes in the ratio of atmospheric gases.
This suggests that the atmosphere of VHS 1256 b is very dynamic and is in the process of continuous mixing.
Notably, VHS 1256 b is quite small for a brown dwarf, suggesting that the object is quite young.
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