Astronomers have stumbled upon a big breakthrough, addressing a lingering question on the potential existence of water clouds outside the solar system. Researchers got their answer through “WISE 0855”.
The alleged “failed planet” was found to have clouds of water or water ice in its atmosphere and such has become the best evidence to date that water clouds exist.
WISE-0855 is five-times bigger than Jupiter and is referred to as a ‘brown dwarf’. To explain, a ‘brown dwarf’ is an object too large to be a planet but also something too small to be fusion reactions that power stars according to Scientific American.
Chilly as the North Pole
The brown dwarf is 7.2 light years away and is said to be as chilly as the North Pole per the CS Monitor. It is the fourth closest system to the sun and was spotted only in 2014.
“Now that we have a spectrum, we can really start thinking about what’s going on in this object,” Dr. Skemer said. “Our spectrum shows that WISE 0855 is dominated by water vapor and clouds, with an overall appearance that is strikingly similar to Jupiter.”
With the discovery, scientists are hoping that their findings can help them in understanding Jupiter better. The recent claims address previous tentative indications concerning water clouds.
But the study may cover more than just understanding Jupiter. As Engadget notes, scientists now has a way to find water clouds beyond the Solar System and use the technique to determine the prevalence of water vapor in space using brown dwarves as benchmarks.
Worth noting however is that there are some differences such as the amount of phospine (a compound of phosphorous and hydrogen). The discovery may not be similar to finding clouds around exoplanets but is by far a good start as any. The new research was published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
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